Kyrie's potential impact on the Mavs offense
Plus: Some love for an impactful rookie on the Utah Jazz
Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. The big news in the association is the Kyrie Irving trade. After failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets, Irving requested a trade ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Within 48 hours, Irving (along with Markieff Morris) was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and future draft picks. We have a comprehensive breakdown of the trade on this week’s The Old Man and the Three Things. You can listen here.
In Saturday’s ABC Primetime matchup, the Warriors defeated the Mavs (playing without Luka), but Steph Curry suffered a lower leg injury. The Warriors went 6-5 when Steph missed time with a knee injury earlier this season, and they will need to have a similar stretch over the next few weeks to stay afloat in the crowded Western Conference. The good news is that they have a 9-day break between games over the All-Star break, giving Curry extra time to recover without missing games.
LeBron James is just 36 points away from becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in career points. At some point this week, James will break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s milestone, a record that many people thought would never be broken. Finally, as mentioned, the trade deadline is Thursday at 3 pm EST (or is it EDT, I don’t actually know). The two teams that I have my eye on are the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors. Will the Raptors be sellers (with Siakam, VanVleet, and Anunoby potentially being on the move) and will the Suns go all in on a big name to make a title run?
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
Our Stat of the Week
Tommy showing love for an impactful rookie on the Utah Jazz
The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
Our Wine of the Week
Thanks for reading and check out our referral program below to easily share the newsletter with other NBA sickos. —JJ
The Stat of the Week is 1.25
There will be a lot of Kyrie Irving takes this week. Prepare yourself. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the impact he could potentially have on the Dallas Mavericks offense. The Mavs are a heavy isolation team, averaging 25.9 isolations per game, the most in the NBA. Obviously, Luka Dončić’s play style has a huge influence on this statistic. I would expect the Mavs to become even more iso heavy as they are adding a player like Irving, who thrives in this play type. According to Second Spectrum, Irving averages 1.25 points per direct isolation this season, the best among players who have had at least 100 isos. The other point on the Mavs offense is that Luka gets blitzed on pick and rolls A LOT. In fact, he has been blitzed 333 times on on-ball screens this season, more than double any other player. Having a player with Irving’s skillset (shooting, passing, driving) as an outlet when Luka gets double-teamed will be a huge bonus for Dallas. —JJ
Last week was Cleveland Week on the OM3 feed with Cavs guard Darius Garland and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Lots of great topics in this episode, including Darius on the ceiling for this year's Cavs team, his adjustments he's had to make playing with Donovan Mitchell, J.B.'s philosophy on coaching, how he's made sure Darius and Donovan Mitchell gel together, finding a new motivation for Kevin Love, and much more.
Plus, Darius asks JJ a good question:
.@jj_redick answers @dariusgarland22's question of whether or not he could still play in the NBA today
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree)
Feb 4, 2023
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Featured Player of the Week: Walker Kessler
The Rudy Gobert Minnesota trade has been talked about ad nauseam including in this letter. Fortunately for the TWolves, they've been playing better recently so the hysterics have muted. As we reach the halfway point of the season, exorbitant draft pick price aside, Walker Kessler, a true throw-in in this deal, is starting to add significant insult to Minnesota fans' injury. Kessler's counting stats are solid with a few exceptional caveats. 7.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game but then, 2.1 blocks per game with a 70.1% true shooting percentage. In the Jazz win over the Raptors this week, Kessler went for 17 and 14 with 7 blocks, the first player since Dwight Howard in 2009 to put up these numbers while shooting over 80% from the field. Likewise, Kessler is the only player in the league to have two different games this year with 7+ blocks. As Stat Muse ironically noted, the last 2 players with 15+ points, 10+ rebounds, 7+ blocks and 80% FG in a game are Kessler and Mr. Rudy Gobert. Another fun fact from our friends at Stat Muse that Wolves fans may not find so funny is that Kessler has more blocks this year than Gobert and KAT combined. Kessler has six 5+ block games this season, Gobert has zero.
And while Kessler's defense has rightfully gotten the most attention, offensively, things have picked up as well. His screening has improved significantly since the beginning of the season, helping open up the Jazz pick and roll. And while nobody will confuse Kessler for Joel Embiid at the offensive end, the team overall has improved offensively since he's been in the starting lineup. The Jazz have a top 10 offense in a limited sample size since he's been starting. As David Locke the great radio voice of the Jazz pointed out on Twitter, over the past month with Mike Conley, Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Kessler on the court together, the Jazz are plus 19.4 per 100 possessions. It feels like overkill at this point to keep harping on how crazy the Gobert trade was, but the emergence of Kessler as a dominant defensive force and burgeoning offensive one has been icing on the cake for Jazz fans and an emerging story line across the league. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Hail Merry's Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookie Dough
To start, Hail Merry's Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookie Dough are not actually made from real cookie dough, but rather crafted with grain-free almond flour, shredded coconut, and organic chocolate chips. These bites are as addicting as any snack I've had in recent memory and not terrible for you like actual cookie dough. Each bag comes with 8 bites, my biggest issue has been polishing off a bag in one sitting because of how light and tasty they are.
The biggest issue with these bites is availability. As a family-owned company based in Texas, lots of grocery stores don't carry these bites yet so your best bet is probably to order them online. You won't regret it if you do. —Tommy
Wine of the Week: 2019 Golan Heights Winery Yarden Syrah
We had a great meal last week at Laser Wolf, an Israeli restaurant in Brooklyn from famed chef Michael Solomonov (his Philly restaurant Zahav is one of my favorites). We opted for an Israeli wine and chose this beautiful Syrah from Golan Heights Winery. We actually drank the 2020 at Laser Wolf, but the 2019 is available now on Vivino for a great price. Not everything has to be from France, Italy, or Napa! —JJ