The Mavs' defensive numbers are jarring

Plus: Thoughts on the Nuggets' starting 5

Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. Last week, we shared our conversation with Paul George, who brought a lot of great insights to the show. Check it out if you haven't already. And on today's episode of The Old Man and the Three Things (our Amazon Music exclusive weekly podcast), we covered the Knicks upset win over the Celtics, the Sixers ending the Bucks win streak, and how good Kevin makes the Suns. Listen here

In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:

  • Our Stat of the Week

  • Tommy on the Nuggets offense

  • The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week

  • Our Wine of the Week

Thanks for reading!  —JJ 

The Stat of the Week is 122.6 

The Dallas Mavericks currently sit in 7th place in the Western Conference and look like a team headed for the play-in tournament. We knew there would be some potential defensive issues, but the numbers are jarring. The Mavs have played 10 games since Kyrie Irving joined the team. They won the first two games without Luka Dončić in the lineup, but over the last 8 games since Luka’s return from injury they are just 2-6. In those 8 games, the Mavericks have the WORST defensive rating in the NBA at 122.6. Irving has played in 7 of the last 8 games with Dončić (Irving sat out a 9-point loss to Denver). In that same 8 game span, the Mavs have the 3rd best offense in the league. While I would expect the defensive numbers to normalize and improve, I’m not convinced the Mavs have a winning formula for playoff success. Despite having two elite closers, they are just 1-4 in clutch games with Irving and Dončić in the lineup. —JJ

Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George brought so much honesty and candor to last week's episode. It's a good one, with topics that range from his thoughts on the load management issue and teaming up with Kawhi to playing against Nikola Jokić and battling the Heatles

YouTube | Wondery+ | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | wherever you listen to your podcasts 

On the Nuggets offense  

There have been a lot of ill informed takes about Nikola Jokić this week that, at this point, don't seem worth addressing. Whether he wins his third MVP in a row or not, he's clearly having another historic offensive season. He leads the league in Player Impact Estimate, Net Rating and Offensive Rating, and the Nuggets sit currently in a comfortable first place in the West with room to grow.

What's been interesting though when digging through the advanced stats — shoutout to Katy Winge from the Nuggets broadcast for pointing this out — is how much help he has gotten from the rest of his starting five on this pace. As of Sunday, the top four players in the NBA in Offensive Rating are all Denver teammates: Jokić, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, with the fifth member of their starting unit Jamal Murray coming in 7th. (Only Kevin Huerter and Dame Lillard prevent an All-Nugget starting 5 in this category.) Compare this to last season where Jokic finished in the Top 3, but no other Denver teammate was in the top 20. Only one pair of teammates finished in the Top 10 last year (Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul in Phoenix), and no team was close to having three. The irony of this stat is that the Nuggets don't even have the best offense in the NBA. That would be the Kings, whose torrid 118.5 offensive rating is historic in its own right.

The Nuggets aren't far behind at 117.6, and while it's impossible no matter what you hear to overstate Jokić's greatness, it does speak to the significant offensive leaps that Gordon and Caldwell-Pope in particular have taken. Caldwell-Pope's Offensive Rating in Washington last year was 109.1. On his championship Laker teams, he fluctuated between 106 and 110. Sitting at 122.6 now, this is obviously a significant leap. Likewise, Gordon, who we've discussed before, is right behind his MVP teammate this year at 124.4. His highest rating pre-Denver was his 2019 Orlando season at 108.6.

The question I'm curious about is: how much of this is is a jump in production from Gordon, Porter Jr, Murray and KCP, and how much of it is just a tribute to Jokić's greatness and ability to make his teammates better? One interesting stat ESPN highlighted earlier in the week, is when Jokić is on the floor the Nuggets have the best net efficiency in the league and when he isn't they have the worst. This is a bit misleading as the Nuggets play their starters together frequently and their bench struggles have been well documented. But it is clear this unit's starting 5 has gelled at a historic level. —Tommy 

Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Pepperoni Pan Pizza at Pequod's 

Okay this may be obvious for anybody reading this from Chicago so feel free to tune out now, but there is no better pizza in the city known for deep dish than Pequod's. And it's not even close. 

Perfect crust, perfect cheese to sauce ratio, perfect pepp dispersement. You really can't go wrong at Pequod's. I personally think the pizza is way better in person than takeout or delivery, but it really does hold up either way. —Tommy 

Pequod's Pizza | Instagram | 2207 N. Clybourn Avenue, Chicago IL 60614

Wine of the Week: Dujac Malconsorts 2010

Look, this week’s Wine of the Week is not for everyone. And that’s fine. This is also a simple test case to see if anyone reacts to me recommending a wine that trades for over 800 dollars a bottle (lol). Domaine Dujac is my favorite red Burgundy producer (and despite the ridiculous price tag this price point is tame compared to some Grand Cru Burgundies). Malcansorts is a single site vineyard that is classified as a Premier Cru (a level below Grand Cru). BUT … Malcansorts is a plot of land that borders La Tâche. La Tâche is a monopole- one site, one producer. That producer is the most famous winery in the world- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. La Tâche trades for thousands of dollars for a single bottle (the best vintages can go for close to $10,000 a bottle). Because of its proximity to La Tâche, wines from Malconsorts share a lot of similarities with its more famous neighbor. A producer like Domaine Dujac brings out the absolute best in grapes grown in Malconsorts. 2010 is one of my favorite recent vintages in Burgundy. This wine is a special occasion wine (or if you’d never splurge this much on a wine — it’s a never occasion wine). Sometimes you gotta share what’s available. 🤷🏻‍♂️ —JJ

Just enjoy greatness. 

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