When the Los Angeles Lakers announced their Las Vegas summer league roster earlier this month, there were a couple of names recognizable to fans of their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.
One of those players was Marcus Allen, who just completed his rookie season in the G League. Allen went undrafted out of Stanford in the 2017 NBA Draft, and his professional basketball career actually began in Finland.
While it was a major adjustment for Allen adapting to another country, the overall experience was something he believed helped him as he pushes towards his goal of playing in the NBA. His offensive game continued to develop and he noticed some big differences in the way the game is played.
“Overseas was cool but it was different. The basketball is a lot more ball movement, the court is smaller so you can help more, you’re playing against a lot of older guys. I think that helped me prepare for what I’m doing this year,” Allen told Ridiculous Upside. “In terms of living, it was different as you can expect. Different country, different language, small town, but all those guys overseas really brought me along and helped me get through.”
His strong play overseas was a determining factor in the renewed interest from NBA personnel. He averaged 16.4 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field, and 40.3 percent from the three-point line. When he arrived back in the United States, he was invited to a tryout for South Bay with hopes of making the team.
His performance during the workouts was enough to earn him a roster spot for the G League regular season. Having experienced the G League for the first time, Allen was impressed with the level of talent as well as the league overall.
“It’s definitely a lot better than a lot of these other leagues, you got a bunch of guys who were the man of their respective colleges, you have guys that’s young, the whole spectrum. I think that adds to the game,” Allen said. “You never know, one day you’re matched up with an older guy who’s smart and been in the league. You got a bunch of athletes and shooters, it varies. It’s a lot of good competition.”
Allen ended up having a solid year for South Bay. When fellow G League rookie Joel Berry II went down with an injury around midseason, Allen was given more playing time. He ended up starting in 23 out of the 43 games he suited up for.
Over the course of the season, he averaged 8.5 points per game on 47.9 percent shooting from the field. He brought a lot of energy to the team, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He also showed an ability to be a playmaker and give the team solid minutes at point guard.
“For me, honestly, I try to bring energy every day, try to be consistent. This year I’ve been able to get to the rim, my shot has improved over the year,” Allen said. “My role always changes but the one constant is to bring energy, especially on the defensive end of the court. Pick up full court, try to bring that spark that our team needs.”
Allen is hoping that his performances with South Bay this season will put him on the radar for a possible NBA call-up. He’s definitely showed an all-around ability on the court in terms of being able to score when needed, play defense, rebound, or be a facilitator.
He had a solid showing at the California Classic Summer League at the beginning of the month, putting up 6.3 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and dishing out 2.7 assists in just under 16 minutes of play.
In Las Vegas thus far, those numbers have dipped a bit, but he’s still shown that infectious energy that helped get him a spot on South Bay, to begin with. Despite whatever the future may hold, he does see the G League as a potential bridge for players hoping to reach their ultimate goal of the NBA.
“I think it’s definitely a stepping stone. Honestly, I’m a tryout player. I didn’t expect at the beginning to get this much opportunity to start,” Allen said. “I think it’s just the beginning. I’m going to keep building on it and just get better and better every day.”