NBA Playoffs 2012: Can Lavoy Allen Save the Philadelphia 76ers' Frontcourt?

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Lavoy Allen #50 of the Philadelphia 76ers moves against Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 1, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 76ers defeated the Bulls 109-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since 2002, the Philadelphia 76ers have made five selections in the second round of the NBA draft. While it's not common for teams to find long-term solutions in the draft's ultimate stage, there are some treasures to be had. Lavoy Allen may be one of those.

Among those five selections, only two stand out as contributors. Other than Allen, Lou Williams may not just be the team's best second-round draft pick of the past decade, but he may be their best player over the last three seasons.

The other selections? Do names like Sam Clancy, Kyrylo Fesenko or Paccelis Morlende ring a bell? Not likely. Of those three, only Fesenko is still playing in the NBA, and he's hardly making an impact with the Indiana Pacers.

When the 76ers drafted Lavoy Allen with pick No. 50 in the 2011 NBA draft, many speculated that he would just be a practice body, an irrelevant piece who would rack up more time on the bench than on the court.

Things changed quickly for the player who finished dead last in ESPN's rankings of all NBA players. Allen, who played out the entirety of his college career at Temple, has proven to be an integral part of a Sixers' frontcourt that has been worn extremely thin by the truncated season.

When Sixers' center Spencer Hawes went down with an Achilles injury in January, the logical replacement appeared to be first-round selection Nikola Vucevic. Though Vucevic was given a shot to compete, Allen proved to be a much more reliable player.

While Allen's regular-season numbers don't appear all that prolific (4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game), his output far exceeded expectations.

Allen has been so effective in his given role that head coach Doug Collins granted the rookie a start in Game 1 of the Sixers' first-round series against the Chicago Bulls. Entering Game 2, Spencer Hawes was deemed the starter in the middle, but early foul trouble forced him from the game. Allen entered and played admirably, posting 11 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of work.

In his first two career playoff games, Allen is averaging 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game against one of the league's stingiest defenses.

With a competent mid-range jump shot and some surprising ability to create chances for himself, Allen is a valuable piece that should not be overlooked in this critical first-round series against the Bulls.