Talking playoffs with Sabrina Ionescu

Plus: Thoughts on the FIBA World Cup

After a hiatus, A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA and WNBA, is back. We’re having a busy week with our new episode of The Old Man and the Three Things, Episode 173 of The Old Man and the Three Things with Sabrina Ionescu, and Episode 174 with Khris Middleton, which drops on Thursday.

And in this week’s A Farewell to Takes we’re giving you:

  • Steve Jones Jr. of The Dunker Spot on the WNBA MVP race

  • Nekias Duncan of The Dunker Spot shares what he’s been reading, listening to, and watching

Thanks for reading! —JJ

Saluting the potential WNBA MVPs

The WNBA has wrapped its regular season, the playoffs are set, and the ballots are in. We will found out who the MVP is on September 26, but before that I wanted to give a salute to what many believe are the top three candidates for the award. The work that A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, and Alyssa Thomas have put in every single night this season has grown the game in ways that should be appreciated. A historic MVP race feels like hyperbole, we’ve seen some great ones in the past, but these three have literally made history.

A’ja Wilson is the reigning, defending WNBA MVP who got even better. Let that sink in for a moment. On August 11, Wilson had 40 points and 12 rebounds against the Mystics on 17-for-25 shooting with zero made threes. On August 22, Wilson tied the single game WNBA scoring record of 53 points on 16 of 23 shooting and 20 of 21 from the free throw line. That’s on top of averaging a career high 22.8 ppg, a career high 9.5 rebounds per game, a career high 2.2 blocks per game, a career high 7.2 free throw attempts per game, a career high 55.7% shooting from the field. Wilson won the MVP shooting 50.1% from the field in 2022, she is taking 0.6 more shoots (14.4 to 15 a night) and is shooting 5.6% better.

To put a little of what Breanna Stewart has done into perspective, I point to Diana Taurasi. Considered one of the greatest WNBA players of all time, Taurasi had 42 points against the Atlanta Dream this season which was the fourth of her career. That was on August 3, 2023. On September 5, Breanna Stewart had 40 points and 10 rebounds against the Dallas Wings. That was her (WNBA record setting) fourth 40 point game of the season and her third 40 point/10 rebound game of the season. She finished second in the W in scoring (23 PPG), 3rd in rebounds (9.3) and tied for 3rd in blocks (1.6). All of that is on top of setting the WNBA single-season scoring record.

With Alyssa Thomas, I point back to June 22. On that night, Candace Parker became the first player to have three triple doubles in a career in league history. I fast forward to June 20 where Alyssa Thomas would record her first triple double of the season against the Seattle Storm (13 pts, 15 rebs, 12 asts). I fast forward to June 27 where Alyssa Thomas would record her third triple double of the season against the New York Liberty (11 pts, 10 rebs, 10 asts). Three triple doubles in four games in about a week’s time. She set the league record for most total assists in a season (317), finishing 1st in rebounds per game (9.9) and 2nd in assists per game (7.9). Take into consideration the fact that the injury to Brionna Jones essentially made her the team’s center and she produced these numbers with 446 of her 513 field goal attempts coming from inside the paint (86.9%).

Napheesa Collier averaged 21.5 ppg, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, which is a lot closer to Wilson/Stewart than some thing. Also compare it to stat lines of past WNBA MVP winners.

And to think I did all of this without the space to mention the defensive impact that each three of these players brings to their teams night in and night out. There is a true case for all three players, whichever stamp you would want to give one you would have to give the other. No matter who wins, the game has been elevated and grown thanks to their efforts. —Steve

JJ and Sabrina Ionescu met up at Nike Soho to record an episode in front of a live audience. They talk about the upcoming playoffs, winning the Commissioner's Cup, the budding rivalry between the Liberty and Aces, what her teammate Breanna Stewart brings to New York, her brand new Nike signature shoe, and more.

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

What Nekias has been reading and listening to

The beauty of basketball, and by proxy, what we do over at The Dunker Spot, is that there's always something to absorb. The NBA season flows into the WNBA season, which flows into the NBA playoffs, which flows into more of the WNBA season. Then there's Summer League, more WNBA play, FIBA World Cup play this year — you get the picture.

With so much hoop, there's plenty of room to learn, talk, and think. And with basketball being such a communal sport, there are broad perspectives to gain from just about anywhere or anyone. My eyes and ears are always peeled, so I figured I'd share a few of the items I've enjoyed recently.



Expect updates from A Fine Fantasy Football League in future issues of A Farewell to Takes. 👀 

How are we feeling about the FIBA World Cup?

JJ and Tommy discuss on the latest episode of The Old Man and the Three Things, exclusively on Amazon Music.

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