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From Free Agent To Knicks’ Two-Way Contract: Confidence And Grind Creates Opportunity For Kadeem Allen

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Kadeem Allen’s stellar play with the Westchester Knicks launched him to New York’s open two-way spot.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a toasty fall day in Portland, Maine and the Westchester Knicks were set to start the 2018-19 season against the Maine Red Claws. Kadeem Allen, who was one of the Boston Celtics’ two-way players last season, returned to the New England area.

The former Arizona Wildcat was the Boston Celtics’ first two-way player after getting selected with the No. 53 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. While he was surprised to hear his name called, Allen had confidence in his game and put in the work to get to where he was.

“I always had confidence in myself. My family always had confidence in me also,” Allen told Ridiculous Upside. “I always knew I could do it. Not trying to sound big headed or nothing, but I was a little surprised my name got called. I worked my whole life for that to happen, so it was destined to happen. I put the work in for it to happen. I was ecstatic a little bit, but you got to keep going up to the top. Just cause I got my name called, doesn’t mean anything. I know a lot of guys that were the No. 1 pick and don’t even play anymore, so just got to keep going and keep grinding.”

The 6’3” guard was waived by Boston in July then was picked up by the Knicks two weeks later. While he joined Westchester as an affiliate player, his mindset was to continue to grind. He’s shown to be a hard-nosed player where he consistently plays hard when he is on the court.

“Just grind. Put the time in and put the effort in,” Allen said. “I feel like whatever you do in the summertime, it will always show in the games during the season. Put a lot of time in the summer and it paid off and I was able to get the two-way (contract).”

He started off his Westchester career by posting 15 points, three rebounds and three assists in the team’s 95-92 win. Allen kept his high-level production rolling throughout the season. His defensive tenacity, hustle, and being the engine that ran the team made him a valuable player in Westchester.

After consistently working on his game through the first two months of his sophomore season, Allen became the eighth Westchester player to earn a call-up when he inked a two-way contract with the New York Knicks. This wasn’t the first time the second-year guard was under this contract. Being under the two-way deal, Allen is going to continue to do what he has always done as he looks to carve out his role at the next level.

“Just do what you do wherever you’re at,” Allen said. “Go out there and do what I do. I’ll never try to go out there and force and do something I don’t do. Never try to get out of your game. When you get out of your game is when you make yourself look crazy. Whatever I’ve been doing my whole life to get me where I am now and when I go up there, I’ll just do the same thing.”

While the two-way contract presents itself with opportunities for players to secure opportunities in the NBA, the two-way contract was never a goal for Allen.

“I’m going to be honest with you. My main goal was never to get a two-way (deal),” Allen said. “I feel like my game and talent could get me a roster spot on a big team anywhere. I just try to go and, like I said before, do what I do and roll my sleeves up and go out there and play hard.”

The second-year guard has made a great impression within the organization and has earned high praise from New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale. Allen has helped lead New York’s second unit with his defensive presence and ability to finish at the rim. He has made the most of his opportunity with the big club on his two-way deal thus far.

After playing in 10 games with New York, the 26-year-old guard has spent the past few games with Westchester. While his time in the G League, Allen’s main focus has been consistency.

“The big thing for me was just being consistent,” Allen said. “(I’ve) always had the tools to play basketball and always had the tools on the offensive end and the defensive end. When you put it together and have confidence in yourself for your game to grow and go to another level. I feel like that’s what’s happening with me right now. (I’m) more confident in myself and just learning how to be more consistent.”