Now that the NBA’s all-time leading three-point shooter has taken his talents to South Beach, Allen has eased into an unfamiliar role.
He still shoots and he still scores, but let’s take a closer look at Allen’s role in Miami and grade his play thus far this season.
Even though he avoided splitting minutes with Avery Bradley and Jason Terry by choosing to sign with the Miami Heat instead of the Celtics, Ray Allen is still a bench player.
This season, Allen is averaging 25.9 minutes per game, the lowest of his career, because Dwayne Wade has the No.1 spot at the shooting guard position.
Though Allen comes off the bench and knocks down three-pointers most of the time, the fact remains that he is no longer a star; he’s a supporting cast member in the Heat’s lineup.
This hurts his ability to flourish as a player in Miami by limiting his minutes.
At the start of February, there was a five-gave period during which Allen made four of 28 (14.3 percent) shots and more tragically one of 12 (8.3 percent) from the three-point range. As a result, NBA fans began to question whether or not Allen’s age had finally caught up with him.
Fox Sports Florida called Allen’s terrible shooting averages in early February “a dreadful stretch.”
The 37-year-old said of the slump:
“As a player in this league, once you get over 30, people say that you’re slowing down, that you’re over the hill. But for me it doesn’t really make a difference because the game has slowed down a lot more for me because I see it a lot easier.”
Heat forward LeBron James didn’t seem too phased by Allen’s sudden inability to shoot, though. “We never wondered why he was in a slump,” James said. “He never worried about it…He’s a huge threat…Ray is one of those few guys in our league that can miss 99 in a row and that 100th one, if you’re not guarding it, he’s going to drain it.”
Yet, the question of Allen’s age remains.
Are his 16 full years in the NBA finally taking a toll on his well-conditioned body?
Allen seemed to lift himself right out of the slump by the end of February.
Most notably, during the Heat’s February 26 game against the Sacramento Kings, Allen played 41 minutes and scored 21 points, making five of the 10 three-point shots he put up.
The shooting guard helped propel his team to a 141-129 win over Sacramento.
Despite his mediocre play in early February, USA Today still calls Allen “a sharpshooter off the bench.” Undoubtedly, the attention Allen pays to his shooting craft and his conditioning is enabling him to bounce back from bad games.
There’s no doubt that Miami can count on Ray Allen to shoot well, even after a few poor games.
However, the rest of his statistics don’t really come anywhere close to those of Dwayne Wade, who Allen relieves when he comes off the bench.
Playing 25.9 minutes per game, Allen averages 11 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game for the 2012-13 season.
Wade’s season statistics are much higher for only about 10 minutes more per game; he is averaging 21.5 points, five rebounds and 4.8 assists. Even though Allen gives 31-year-old Wade a rest and contributes some points to the scoreboard, is he really worth that much to the Miami Heat?
Can he do more than shoot?
Yes, he can give any other player a run for his money in three-point shooting. Yes, he is ultimately an integral part of the Miami Heat’s offense, especially when they need someone to score in a flash. Yes, his body and play seem to defy his age, for the most part.
However, Ray Allen does have his bad games, and even when he plays well, his rebounds and assists pale in comparison to Dwayne Wade.
Ray Allen is a weapon off the bench in the most definitive sense.