Breaking down the blockbuster 3-team trade and the aftermath
Plus: A perfect airplane movie rec
Welcome back to A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA and WNBA. Last week, Nets forward Cam Johnson joined me in studio for Episode 175 of The Old Man and the Three. The episode includes one of my conversations around the intricacies of shooting a basketball. Great stuff. This week’s episode of The Old Man and the Three Things will be live later this afternoon, and we just announced that Coach Joe is on this week’s episode of The Old Man and the Three.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we’re giving you:
Thanks for reading! —JJ
Breaking down the blockbuster trade
I’m going to be honest with you all. You probably don’t need me to explain why Damian Lillard, new Milwaukee Buck is a good thing.
My mind goes to the other teams involved in this trade, and the rarity that you could find a win for all parties involved.
Boston ends up with Jrue Holiday and if you don’t believe in that move, just note that Brad Stevens himself stated “there’s a list of guys in the league that you always think you’ll never have a real chance to get that you think are perfect fits…” when talking about Holiday.
The Celtics will miss Marcus Smart, but adding Jrue Holiday will erase a lot of the defensive question marks folks may have had. Holiday and Derrick White will cause chaos defensively and if you are concerned about Kristaps Porziņģis in pick-and-roll, recognize those two will lessen the load with their ability to navigate screens. My mind goes to the offense where Jrue can initiate offense, run pick-and-roll, post up. When he is spaced, defenses will have to treat him differently. Their lineups will have a wide variety of versatility and playmaking. Think about this: Jrue Holiday is an All-Star. Who are teams going to have defend him while still having to deal with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown?
The Suns will benefit from having Jusuf Nurkić, who all things considered, is more likely to fit into the role of what they will need from a big man. He’ll be asked to do his job, to screen, roll, rebound, and defend. The biggest key for this move working is Nurk’s ability to finish when he rolls as teams will look to take away Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. He’ll have to make great short roll decisions. They’ll have to find a scheme that works for him. If they do, I think people will be surprised on what that impact could be.
For Portland, I would just point to the joy that Deandre Ayton displayed on his first day at the practice facility. Every human can relate to the meaning of a fresh start, clean slate, and opportunity to have an impact. That may be the biggest benefit for Ayton and the Blazers, and I can imagine a world where he improves in the areas that are question marks because of it. Portland brought a return of talented players who can help them now but could be moved in the future.
My favorite part is we still have the reigning champion Nuggets. LeBron James has been quieter than usual. Jimmy Butler is emo. This season is going to be fun. —Steve
Notable Player of the Week: Betnijah Laney
It goes without saying but this upcoming Liberty/Aces final has no shortage of star power. Not since Cavs/Warriors have we had so many storylines, so much hype, and wattage on both sides of a Finals matchup like this. The Aces have been steamrolling everybody in their path, but as someone who has been to 90% of the Liberty games in Brooklyn this year, it felt hairy for a second. New York got punched in the mouth in Game 1, and with an early Game 2 10-point deficit, it felt like the walls were starting to close in a little bit. Then came Betnijah Laney. Her aggressiveness on both sides of the ball set the tone for a group finding its footing and as the series continued and Stewy and Jonquel Jones started to find their flows, Laney only got better. Yesterday's closeout at Mohegan Sun was the feather in the cap. 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 three’s and great defense defending multiple Connecticut scorers all day. Championships are won with role players, and there are not many playing better than Laney at the moment. —Tommy
Nekias’s 2K Tip of the Week: Peep the clock before you reach!
Defense is a lot more fun to play in NBA 2K24, compared to last year's game. In addition to a reconfiguration of badges (more on that shortly), body-ups feel better. Sliding defensively feels more natural, opposed to the skating-on-ice feel of years prior. If you're locked in on what your opponent likes to do, you can effectively shut them down in space. It's an exhilarating experience when done correctly.
A big part of the on-ball fun is the RIght Stick Ripper badge, which works as you'd expect it to: use the right analog stick to swipe left or right at the ball, which naturally depends on which hand the opponent has the ball in. For the Rec or Pro-Am locks out there, you have the ability to truly ruin somebody's day for 30 minutes.
However, be mindful of when you're reaching. There's nothing more back-breaking than defending as a unit for 15-18 seconds of the shot clock, only to hear a whistle for a reach-in foul, putting the shot clock back to 14. It's especially frustrating when facing a good team; while defense is better this year, the 5-out, high PnR offense still reigns supreme in competitive settings.
Getting the stop is more important than getting the steal, even if there's some overlap to those ideals. You don't want to end up in foul trouble getting too aggressive, because it'll likely hinder your defense moving forward. You don't want to give (2K) offenses extra cracks at a possession, almost regardless of skill level. An underrated part of that selectivity: you can, in theory, remove the option of a late/backdoor cut off the table for your opponent. If I'm facing a swipe or passing lane-heavy defender and it's made apparent early, I'm quickly communicating to my point guard that I'll be a late-clock option as a cutter.
A general rule for me, much to the chagrin of some of the friends I play with, is to chill with swipes once the shot clock hits 14 or 10 (if you really have an advantage. Beyond that, it's also important to note that two fouls within the final two minutes of a quarter lead to automatic free throw trips.
In short: be aggressive, but be smart with that aggression.
Removing easy options is the name of the game. Do your part. —Nekias
What Jason has been watching (in the air)
A great airplane movie is like a nice crispy glass of ginger ale. Perfect in the air but under no circumstance should you engage on land unless you're under the age of 14 or sick in bed. Now let's talk about the movie To Catch a Killer, starring Shailene Woodley and Ben Mendelsohn — a perfect airplane movie.
The film opens on several NYE parties in Manhattan and wow everyone is having so much fu— BOOM multiple people are sniped. Let's fucking go. Police officer Eleanor Falco, played by Woodley, is first on the scene and FBI Special Agent Lammark, played by Mendelsohn, is called in ... To Catch A Killer.
From there we learn about our main characters. Falco plays a troubled officer, and the only person who sees her potential is ... wait for it ... Special Agent Lammark. You see, Lammark has read her file. Aggressive. Addictive. Anti-social. Otherwise known in the film community as a "Woodley Flush."
I won't spoil the rest. Not because I care but because you can probably already see every turn from a thousand miles away, but there's a comfort in the familiar which is why it's a fantastic experience in the clouds. So the next time you're on an airplane, fire up To Catch a Killer. It goes great with ginger ale. —Jason Gallagher
Best Thing Tommy Ate Last Week: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Doughnut at Wildair
Shout out to the Wildair crew, especially chef and co-owner Fabián von Hauske Valtierra. Wildair is great spot on the Lower East Side, and for the last few years, the crew has been pumping out dougnuts on Saturday morning. What started as an experiment is now definitely one of the best donuts in the city. They make two special creations each week, most of which generally sell out in 15-20 minutes. Fabian reached out to me a few months back about doing one of my own, and because I have very little creativity, especially in the culinary world, all I could tell him was that I wanted cookie dough involved. Rest assured, they made an insane chocolate chip cookie dough doughnut with Boston cream that was way better than it had any business being. These guys do different flavors every weekend, and they are almost always bomb. Definitely look out for them on Instagram.
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