OKC has a future star in Jalen Williams
Plus: Thoughts on the Bulls
Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. We published Episode 150 (!) last week with guest Dame Lillard. For his second appearance on the show, he brought the heat. A new episode of The Old Man and the Three Things, our Amazon exclusive podcast, has just dropped, and we're talking about teams with a lot of hope for their future.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
Our Stat of the Week
Tommy on the Bulls
The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
Our Wine of the Week
Thanks for reading and listening! —JJ
The Stat of the Week is 1.17
The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the best stories in the NBA this season. Before the season began, the Thunder were projected to have the worst record in the NBA and had a .1% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN analytics. With 11 games to go, they are 35-36 and sitting in the 8th spot in the Western Conference. There are a number of factors responsible for their remarkable season: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's emergence as a superstar, Josh Giddey’s scoring and playmaking, Isaiah Joe’s shooting, and the hustle of Kenrich Williams. Of course, a lot of credit should go to coach Mark Daigneault who has done an outstanding job, as well. But the play of Jalen Williams has really stood out to me. Since the All-Star break, Williams is averaging 19.2 points and has shot 44.7% from 3 over his last 16 games. Defensively, he’s far ahead of the curve for a rookie. He uses his size and length to guard primary scorers and disrupt opposing offenses. Offensively, one stat in particular stands out to me, of players that have had at least 100 direct isolation opportunities, Williams ranks 6th in the entire NBA at 1.17 points per direct isolation. OKC has a future STAR in Jalen Williams. —JJ
It was Dame Time on The Old Man and the Three last week. The superstar joined the show to talk about the evolution of the league, the origins of his shooting technique, embracing the 3-point revolution, his craziest buzzer beaters, how the lack of veteran presence have impacted the NBA, and more.
On the potentially resurgent Bulls
It's been tough to find many positives in the Bulls season this year. Yes, DeMar has been great as always, and with the bottom four of the East firmly in the tank for Wemby rat race, the play-in game has always seemed a safe bet. But they've just been meh all season. Lonzo's depressing health news and their lack of a first round pick hasn't helped, but the on court product just hasn't been very good. The 3-point shooting is the worst in the league, and the offense hasn't been far behind. While their defensive rating has been much better, it didn't seem to matter much in terms of wins or overall momentum.
When they picked Patrick Beverley off the buyout market on February 21st, not many took notice. Sure it's nice that one of our favorite lighting rods is going back to play at home but from a basketball standpoint, would it move the needle? In a small sample size so far, it appears that it has and makes the Bulls an intriguing group to look at heading into a likely play-in situation.
First off, since February 21st, the Bulls have an offensive rating of 121.8. They are 7-4 since the pickup with convincing wins over the Nuggets and two teams they may meet in the playoffs, Brooklyn/Miami, with, as Beverley acknowledged after their game Saturday, two of their losses against Indiana and Sacramento coming on last second buzzer beaters. Since the All-Star break, Zach LaVine has averaged 32 points per game in the month of March, shooting close to 48% from 3. When you combine this with DeRozan, who's also averaging 30 per game in March, including a 49 point effort, we are finally seeing the 1-2 punch that we hoped for when the year began. While Beverley statistically hasn't been blowing anybody's doors off, the addition of him and Alex Caruso to the starting lineup has increased the team's spacing while allowing them to keep up their usual defensive intensity.
In a limited sample size, the Bulls 5 man lineup of Beverley, Caruso, Lavine, DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević have an offensive rating of 118.6 and a defensive rating of 98.1, both which would be towards the top of the league in five man units.
As JJ and I have discussed on The Old Man and the Three, the Bulls were first in the East last January when Lonzo went down. They've struggled since then and never really regained their footing this year, but it's interesting to see if the addition of Beverley can help simulate some of what Lonzo brought to last year's group. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Spaghetti Hangover at Bar Mario
There are no shortage of excellent pasta options in Brooklyn. Bar Mario on Van Brunt in Red Hook, right down the street from the legendary Red Hook Tavern, only opened two weeks ago, but it will quickly join that list. It's not a fancy place, there are no reservations, so would suggest showing up early. The overall vibe screams local pub that happens to serve excellent pasta. Everything we tried on the menu was excellent, but the highlight was probably the Spaghetti Hangover. I'm not totally sure what's in it: olive oil, anchovies, onion, chillies, tomatoes, a few different types of cheese, etc. — just a hodge podge of amazing ingredients. I don't think you can go wrong with this particular menu, but I would go before it becomes a two hour wait to get in. —Tommy
Bar Mario | Instagram | 365 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Wine of the Week: 2016 Thomas Morey Santenay Vieilles Vignes
To me, there's nothing better than an affordable, easy-drinking Red Burgundy. This wine from Thomas Morey fits the bill. We had this wine over the weekend at Inga's Bar in Brooklyn (the cheeseburger at Inga's is one of the best in NYC). Santenay lies at the southern end of the Côte de Beaune, and wines from this area of Burgundy tend to be more rustic (and much cheaper) than wines from the Northern part of Burgundy. These particular pinot noir grapes are grown on very old vines (vieilles vignes) that give the wine a nice character and depth. It's not easy to find a good red Burgundy for under 30 dollars, but here you go. —JJ
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