Lavoy Allen rises from worst to key cog on playoff team

In an preseason poll of the top 500 players in the entire NBA, Lavoy Allen placed last.

Yes, No. 500.

The lesson from preseason polls? They can be rather meaningless.

Allen, drafted 50th overall from Temple, has been a major factor in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Through the first two games, Allen knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot and wound up averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. More than that, the poise Allen displayed was rather remarkable.

Or was it?

“You know, Lavoy has been like that all year with his even-keeled demeanor,” said veteran forward Tony Battie. “He’s a gifted player, very skilled, very strong and he doesn’t get rattled easily. He’s been kind of a blessing for us.”

With Elton Brand hindered by a sore neck and shoulder, Allen’s role is likely to increase as the series progresses.

“Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’ll do it,” said the soft-spoken Allen. “I’m playing with a lot of confidence and my teammates trust me. Whenever I’m on the court, I’m just trying to do my job and help my team.”

How about the preseason poll?

“I don’t pay attention to things like that,” Allen said.

Allen made his first start Feb. 4 and was inserted into the starting lineup for 15 regular-season games. In between, there were ups and downs — all normal for a rookie. When he wasn’t playing, he was learning everything he possibly could in practice and on the bench.

“I picked up so much in games I wasn’t playing, so when I got in, I used that,” said Allen, who attended Pennsbury High and eventually became Temple’s all-time leading rebounder (1,147). “As my playing time increased, I got more confident. It’s been a good learning curve for me and I sure hope it continues.”

Who? What?

Here are the players ranked above Lavoy Allen in ESPN’s preseason poll:

Robert Vaden, No. 499: Played for Tulsa 66ers, Oklahoma City’s D-League team.

Vernon Macklin, No. 498: Played in 23 games for the Pistons, averaged 5.9 min.

Solomon Alabi, No. 497: Played in 14 games for Toronto, averaged 8.7 min.

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