On Luka Dončić's historic month

Plus: goals for Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Grizz

Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick look around the NBA. No new episode of The Old Man and the Three this week, but Jason put together a video compilation of our smartest NBA conversations of the year. Highly recommend checking it our on our YouTube. We'll be back with a new episode this week, so stay tuned to our socials to see who the guest is.  

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

  • Our Stat of the Week

  • Tommy on Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Grizzlies

  • The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week

  • Our Wine of the Week

Thanks for being a part of our community and happy new year! —JJ 

The Stat of the Week is 500, 125, 125

Luka Dončić just completed an historic month. He finished December with 526 points, 128 rebounds, and 139 assists. He’s just the 4th player in NBA history to accumulate 500 points, 125 rebounds, and 125 assists in a calendar month. (He joins Russell Westbrook, Michael Jordan, and Oscar Robertson). After a slow start, the Mavs are riding a 6-game win streak and currently sit 4th in the Western Conference standings. Luka’s dominance has been a big part of this win streak — he’s averaged 42.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 10.2 apg over the last 6. However, the play of Christian Wood and Spencer Dinwiddie has been crucial to the Mavs success. For all the talk about “Luka needing help,” Wood and Dinwiddie are both having outstanding seasons. The Mavs clearly really rely on Luka and his ball-dominance (he currently has the 2nd highest usage rate in the NBA at 38.2%), but solid performances and timely shooting from the Mavs ancillary players have them right back in the hunt in the Western Conference. —JJ

Since we were off last week, we put together a compilation video of our favorite 'smart NBA hoops' discussions featuring Luka Dončić, Chris Paul, Jayson Tatum, Stephen Curry, Tyrese Haliburton, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Desmond Bane. There's nothing like 36 minutes of pure, high basketball IQ talk. 

Featured Player of the Week: Jaren Jackson Jr. 

We talk a lot about the Memphis Grizzlies and for good reason. They have a legit MVP candidate and one of the most exciting players the league has seen in years in Ja Morant. They have a deadeye shooter built like a Pro Bowl linebacker (and friend of OM3) in Desmond Bane. They're deep, they're young, they're well coached, and they talk a lot of shit. But as we get closer to the All Star break, and the Grizz sit one game out of first in the West, it's become clear that the fate of this team rises and falls with their 23 year old center

Jackson Jr. has been a productive pro since being drafted 4th overall in the 2018 draft. He's averaged over a block per game with double digit efficient scoring. His main problem has been availability, both injury concerns and foul trouble when he's been on it. In Memphis's first round playoff series against Minnesota last year, Jackson Jr. committed 7.6 fouls per 36 minutes, a baffling and frustrating number for a guy who lead the league in total blocks and block percentage and can defend all five positions. Unlike most of the league's other great defensive bigs, most of Jackson Jr. blocks are not the result of drop coverage, a feat made more impressive just by his sheer ability to affect shots in multiple ways.

This season, Jackson Jr. didn't make his debut until November 15th, and since then, his numbers have been striking. Averaging 3.2 blocks per game, Jackson currently has the number 1 defensive rating of any player in the league who averages more than 25 minutes. Even missing time, in the year 2022, Jackson Jr. had 165 blocks, Mitchell Robinson had the next highest number at 128. Since his return, the Grizzlies are 1st in defense, 1st in halfcourt defense, and 2nd in defensive rating throughout the entire season. His impact was obvious in the Grizzlies matchup against the Pelicans the other night. Runaway freight train Zion Williamson was unable to get comfortable against Jackson Jr.'s unique blend of size and lateral quickness, finishing 6 of 16 with 10 turnovers. Jackson Jr.'s five fouls in 11 minutes on Christmas Day against the Warriors was the flip side of this equation and what makes his game so fascinating and, at times, frustrating.

For Memphis moving forward, their goal is simple. Keep Jackson Jr. on the court and they will be tough to beat. For Jackson Jr.: stay on the court, and he may be the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. —Tommy 

Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger at Red Hook Tavern 

Simply put, the burger at Red Hook Tavern in Brooklyn is the best burger in America. Led by chef Billy Durney of Hometown BBQ fame, Red Hook has been open for a few years and is not a huge secret. The meat is perfectly tender and cooked, the bun is perfectly crisp, and most importantly, there's an onion underneath the meat to keep the entire package firm. Served with a side of fries and a pickle, it's close to a perfect meal. —Tommy 

Red Hook Tavern | Instagram | 329 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 

Wine of the Week: Louis Latour Nuits-St-Georges 2015 

I spent NYE in Jamaica with my wife and kids, and we had a great time. While we did open a bottle of champagne to celebrate, we also enjoyed this lovely Red Burgundy from Louis Latour. I sometimes travel with wine, but because of customs limitations I decided to try my luck and find some wine in Jamaica. Luckily the nearby market had a decent selection highlighted by this bottle. Latour makes a lot of wine, but the quality is always solid. This wine has good structure and a nice balance of acidity and tannins. Burgundy is expensive, unfortunately, and finding a good bottle at this price point is a great value. —JJ

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