Welcome to issue #5 of A Farewell to Takes. We are now two weeks into the regular season, and there’s a lot of great storylines around the league: Ja Morant is even more awesome than he was a season ago, Paolo Banchero looks like the real deal, the Jazz might actually be good, etc.
We are focusing on a couple things in this week’s issue: the Bucks' defense and Donovan Mitchell’s early MVP candidacy. As always, we have our Wine of the Week, and Tommy gives you another food rec. If you haven’t listened to last week's episode of The Old Man and the Three with Clippers coach Ty Lue yet, I would strongly encourage you to give it a listen. It’s one of my favorite interviews we have ever done. Enjoy!
The Stat of the Week is 102.6
The Milwaukee Bucks are the NBA’s only remaining undefeated team and currently are 1st in the NBA with a Defensive Rating of 102.6. (The Lakers are 2nd in Defensive Rating but as we know … they can’t shoot.) Despite some pedestrian offensive numbers (Milwaukee is 16th in Offensive Rating and 22th in True Shooting Percentage), the Bucks have won on the strength of their defense, and Giannis (of course) is leading the charge. It’s early, but through the first two weeks of the season, Giannis is 1st in the NBA in Defensive Win Shares and 1st in Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Tommy has a bold prediction in this week’s newsletter regarding the MVP race, but I think it’s safe to say Giannis has a real chance at another MVP/DPOY combo like he had in 2019-20. —JJ
One Bold Prediction: Donovan Mitchell will be in the MVP conversation all season
Was considering dropping in a spicy take about the Cavs making the Finals just to liven up everybody's Halloween, but that spot is still a healthy Bucks team's to lose. With that being said, the Cavs are 5-1, fresh off a convincing comeback win over the Celtics, and they've been doing it all without Darius Garland. When we had Donovan on the pod a few weeks back, he talked about the team's adjustment period to him and what it would take for him to figure out how to play with a brand new young group. I think he's found his answers. So far this year, Don is averaging 32.2 ppg, shooting 49.6% from the field on 22 shots per game. Since he got to the league, Donovan has always been towards the top of the effective field goal percentage rankings, but his numbers from 3 and everywhere else are up across the board. While there may some adjustment to having another star guard like Garland with the ball in his hands across the wing from him, it seems likely this will only lead to more catch and shoot opportunities, another space where Mitchell has thrived his whole career. Basically, the Cavs are really good and should only get better. Their depth and explosive potential should allow Donovan Mitchell to take the next step from All-Star to potential MVP candidate. —Tommy
Best Thing I Ate This Week: Hummus Masabacha from Bavel
I know what you're thinking, hummus is boring and basic and how can that be the best thing you ate all week. While that may be the case 99% of the time, at Bavel, the crown jewel of the downtown Los Angeles dining scene, the hummus masabacha is the star of the show. Chef Ori Menashe doesn't miss. His other two restaurants Saffys and Bestia are also two of the spots in the city, but pound for pound, I'd put Bavel up there for best restaurants in the city. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the ingredients in this dish; it's similar to a hummus dish you would get at most Mediterranean restaurants, just seriously elevated. If you find yourself in LA for a night, do not miss this. —Tommy
The Coaching Series returned last week, featuring Clippers head coach Ty Lue. In Episode 131, we talk about how he used cash to motivate the Cavs when they were down 3-1, his perspective on the AI step-over, and why he didn't like JJ at first when they were teammates.
Wine of the Week: 2016 Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
I’ve been getting some heat for not including any Napa cabs in my WOTW recommendations so I thought this week I’d give you a rec from one of my favorite producers of Napa cab — Heitz Cellar. Heitz makes incredible wines at a bunch of different price points (if you really want to splurge, grab yourself a bottle of their Martha’s Vineyard cab). This wine has been described by others as “polished” and “refined”. I would describe it as delicious juice. There is structure to this wine and a good balance of tannins and acidity. For those that like a fuller-bodied wine, this fits the bill without being too overwhelming. —JJ
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