Credit: AP, AFP - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration
Credit AP, AFP - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration

Past week’s obvious topic was the general offensive slump in the NBA. While offensive ratings and shooting accuracies are very low compared to recent years, European players made decent contributions to improve the deteriorating effects of such problems.

Nicolas Batum

Nicolas  Batum
Nicolas  Batum
MIN: 27.77
PTS: 10.88 (48.57%)
REB: 6.38
As: 1.5
ST: 1.25
BL: 0.75
TO: 0.5
GM: 8

Last night’s Ricky Rubio explosion with eight three-pointers and career-high 37 points was a prime example of this contrasting trend while he was not the only one to give huge support for his respective team.

BasketNews presents its second edition of NBA Europe, where you’ll be able to find out about European players’ performances in the NBA.

Luka Magic Happens When It Comes Down to a Three 

Things are finally starting to click for Dallas Mavericks as they won 3 out of 4 games last week, including that game against the Celtics with Luka Doncic buzzer-beater step-back three. That was a historical game-winner as it was the 3rd in Doncic’s career, which tied Dirk Nowitzki’s franchise record.

Besides that 3-pointer, Doncic scored 33 against the Celtics as well as Miami Heat earlier in the week, albeit the latter for a losing cause. His incredible bucket from the logo with 4 minutes left in the Sacramento game effectively sealed the win because that effectively halted Kings’ comeback attempt.

Despite Doncic’s personal effort in some individual games, it is also a fact that his points per shot attempt decreased to 105.7, a category that he never finished below 110.5 in his NBA career. That also coincides with Dallas stumbling in the offense. In August 2020, the Mavericks broke the offensive efficiency ratings in the NBA, and last season, they were in Top10.

Currently,  they are in the bottom eight of that category. They are shooting 31% beyond the arc with an effective FG percentage that fell below 49%.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis  Antetokounmpo
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Position: PF, SF
Age: 26
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Birth place: Athens, Greece

Kristaps Porzingis finally overcame his injury problems with his back and managed to play a solid 4th quarter against the Celtics, but it looks like Doncic would definitely need a secondary scorer next to him with certain stability if Dallas seeks to get deeper in the playoffs. 

Giannis Climbs Upon another Franchise Record 

While the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks are still struggling to win games (somewhat like Efes’ syndrome in Europe), Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps moving upwards in the franchise records list.

His latest achievement was to leave Sidney Moncrief behind, bypassing 2690 assists to climb all-time second on the Bucks’ history in this category. During last night’s loss against Washington, he made 5 assists (and just another 29 points) in the process.

Giannis’ prowess in this faciliatory category is often overlooked, but his assists percentage is beyond 30% for the first time in his NBA career.

While Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez remain out, Giannis seems to enjoy dishing passes to Grayson Allen, who joined the Bucks from Memphis Grizzlies in the summer.

This passing combo is Milwaukee’s most frequent choice, and Allen is shooting 40% from the 3-point range while 12 of his 13 three-pointers were sent after Giannis’ assists.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee lost three more games last week to New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, and Washington Wizards, only managing to overcome Detroit Pistons, who are currently sitting at the bottom of the East with 1-8.

Bucks are 4-6 are sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference. Not looking sharp at all.

Business as usual for MVP

For Nikola Jokic, things are business as usual as he recorded consecutive double-doubles against Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets last week (with 34 points & 11 rebounds and 28 points & 14 rebounds, respectively).

However, the problem was that Denver was on a losing streak until Jokic’s game-saving block came to the rescue.

On the negative side, it is also worth noting that Jokic could have made another potential game-saving moment against Memphis. But the Serbian fell short with the shot in a clutch moment, and Denver lost to Grizzlies twice in back-to-backs.

Intriguingly enough, Denver is struggling with offensive efficiency (24th place), just like the case with Dallas, but the Nuggets are at least found some intensity on defense.

For the record, last seasons’ MVP Jokic is still leading the league on the RAPTOR index with both box-score and overall RAPTOR categories. 

Furk is Fun and 76ers, too 

Look what’s found: Philadelphia 76ers is leading the East with an 8-2 record and unbeaten in the last 6 games, with four games won in the past week.

Impressed? Here is some more: They are heading the league in efficiency with 116.3 points per 100 possessions, and all these happened despite the Ben Simmons situation.

There are many good individual stories behind this start, but Furkan Korkmaz’s contributions are something else nowadays. Both his minutes and usage rate are gradually increasing, and for the first time in his 5th year NBA career, he is using the ball by 22.3% while he is on the floor.

Korkmaz started the week with a very useful 15 points against the Portland Trail Blazers in the absence of Tobias Harris, and he was listed as questionable himself during midweek due to soreness in his wrist.

Luckily, he looked unfazed against any kind of physical pain whatsoever as he scored 25 points and grabbed 6 rebounds against Chicago.

He played with 7/9 behind the arc, which meant that more than half of all Philadelphia threes came from Furkan, as the other four came from Joel Embiid.

This was probably his most offensively adept game after the previous explosions with 31 and 34 points in back 2020 February.  

Furkan’s shooting threat appears more meaningful and instrumental, once we observe that the 76ers are the top 3 point shooting team currently in the league by 40% accuracy. 

Vintage Nicolas Batum

After a rough start to the season that was hampered by injuries (1-4), last week was a recovery period for LA Clippers. Without a doubt, three wins against Thunder Timberwolves and Hornets pumped some self-confidence.

During the process, they engineered a 20 point comeback against Timberwolves on Friday and a 22-0 run in the final stretch against Hornets last night.

Behind this recuperation, Nicolas Batum proved his worth with considerably valuable contributions in defense and offense. After two seasons, he is a regular starter again, and he carried last season’s momentum to a new level.

Currently, LA Clippers have the second-best defense in the league (101.2 Defensive Rating), and the Clippers’ defense has an extra shield when Batum is on the court as he provides +19.6 points according to on/off impact stats.

Last week, the Clippers forced 16-17-22 turnovers in three successive games, and they are one of the best of the league in this category. Paul George is the league’s stealing leader (with 3.0 per game) and, without a doubt, the team’s overall leader, but Batum’s presence on the wings was very helpful for disrupting opponent ball movements.

Last week, 42 of these 55 turnovers took place when the Frenchman was on the court himself. Bledsoe-Jackson-Paul George-Ivica Zubac-Nicolas Batum is a dreadful lineup as they are among the Top10 defensive five in the league.

In addition to this defensive contribution, Batum’s turnover rates fell to 5.7% from 11 %, and Clippers is +4.8% better on effective shooting when he is on the court.

His 17/27 2 FG and 16/29 (55 %) 3 point shooting brought double-digit scoring numbers with 12-20-14-16, as it was the first time that Batum provided double-digit scoring in four successive games in 2,5 years.

The Bosnian rebound magnet

Last week could not be labeled as a good term for Portland Trail Blazers, considering the positive 4-2 start they’ve made for the beginning of the season. But at least, they made a good closure.

Successive wins against Indiana and LA Lakers were morale boosters, and Jusuf Nurkic played an important role behind it. The Bosnian center made two double-doubles last week (against Charlotte 13 points & 14 rebounds and 15 points & 17 rebounds against Lakers).

He is currently sitting in third place (32.2 %) of the defensive rebound percentages behind Rudy Gobert (38.1%) and Andre Drummond 34.8%. He is also on 11.5 pts 11.9 rebounds averages and not only improved his FG% from 51.4% to 56.3%, but his defensive rating is also getting better.

It seems like Nurkic’s enjoying his time with the new coach, Chancey Billups, with whom he was well acquainted from his days of Denver, where Billups was living in his post-playing career days in the city.

The biggest threat against Nurkic is injuries since he could only play 45 games in the past two seasons combined, but everything seems to be fine so far. 

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