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

Busy week for Euro-NBA stars. Giannis Antetokounmpo kept his regular dominance after being diminished to 15 points 11 rebounds against the Heat, with back-to-back double-doubles and triple-double game versus the Knicks.

Nikola Jokic

Nikola  Jokic
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: C, PF
Age: 26
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 111 kg
Birth place: Serbia

However, his comments about the rookie center Alperen Sengun, who scored two season-high 15 points efforts in succession, were also widely noticed. The Turkish youngster was showing-off in the court with his Jokic-like dishes against Memphis, 6 in total.

Speaking of Turkey-NBA connections, Luka Doncic seems to be getting more involved in Turkish basketball while nursing his injuries.

He followed Semt77 Yalovaspor on social media, a newcomer in the top division after his good friend Luka Rupnik joined the team from the Marmara shores. As a small club, you cannot have better exposure than such an occasion.

In the French strand, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is finally getting his touch back as he scored 23 points against the Timberwolves, with 7/14 behind the arc. It took some time, but he is getting adopted to the Hawks scheme.

Killian Tillie of Memphis just played his best again of the season against the Rockets with 12 points, and Killian Hayes is getting heated up: after dishing 6 assists against the Pelicans, he just made a cunning steal against Kevin Durant while he was on his way for a career record.

KD ended up with 51 points and handed the Pistons their 12th loss,  for the record) Killians, shall we say?

Gallinari' The Taxi-Driver' Back on Business

The taxi driver is back. After a quiet start to the season, Danilo Gallinari is finally heating up to bring some more contributions to Atlanta Hawks.

The Italian forwards averaged 6.3 points and 2.2 rebounds for the first ten games of the season, but regarding the last ten, he increased those figures to 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.

Danilo Gallinari

Danilo  Gallinari
Danilo  Gallinari
MIN: 21.77
PTS: 9.63 (52.23%)
REB: 4
As: 1.29
ST: 0.5
BL: 0.25
TO: 0.42
GM: 24

The last season's Eastern Conference finalists did not fully put things on the right track, but at least the individual parts are coming back to themselves.

Starting from Sunday, Gallinari played three games last week and, in all of them, gave double-digit scoring contributions to this team.

Against Hornets, he was cold from deep (1/4) but took control of the game in crucial moments thanks to his post-up pushes from the elbow with some wise decision-making skills. Despite his 17 points, Hornets pulled off a surprising win even LaMelo Ball was out of the game due to health protocols. 

Gallinari's 20 points against Timberwolves was the season's best, but in this game and against the Nets, his touch behind the arc also gets better as he hit 7 out of 10.

Thanks to these strong spot-up 3 point shooting displays, Gallinari now reached 41%, and it helps a lot the team in the absence of Bogdan Bogdanovic as far as the outside threat is concerned.

Mr. Transition Bojan Bogdanovic 

Utah Jazz might have missed a historical opportunity last season. While Golden State Warriors were still sleeping, they had strong odds to reach the NBA finals from the West, but despite finishing the conference in the first spot, they could not overcome the LA Clippers.

All is not lost, perhaps. Utah Jazz will try again. And they will need all the core parts to step up. Bojan Bogdanovic is all in.

While the Jazz won two more games last week to complete a 7-0 series, the Croatian sharpshooter is there whenever the duty calls.

Against Timberwolves, Bogdanovic scored 21 points with 4/9 three-point shooting while proving his transition spacing skills in the process. Three of those three-pointers came when the opponent's defense was not settled (fast break or second chance).

Bogdanovic plays with 24% frequency in transition (Per Synergy), which is the 6th highest in the entire league. Also, that is a 5% increase from last season. The specialty coincides with the team's overall efficiency regarding transition scoring since the Jazz is making 130.6 points per 100 possession in this category which is the fifth-best among the league (per Cleaning the Glass).

But that is not all; Bogdanovic improved the accuracy in rim shots (from 57% to 65%) and long mid-range from 28% to 43% despite having the same volume from these positions, and the effective field goal percentage rose to 57%. That puts him in the top 15 percentile among all the forwards of the NBA.

Not only relying on his shooting but also using the catch and drive moves when he instinctively attacks those leaks in defense brought a quite reliable scoring contribution from Bogdanovic. This season, he remained above double-digit scoring in all two games. 

Sabonis Rising in Crisis 

Indiana Pacers are not quite happy with the circumstances they found themselves in. Left 12-17, bottom third in the Eastern, playoffs (or play-in) chances are fading.

In the shadows of potential trade talks regarding their three key players: Caris Levert, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner, the Pacers still managed to pull off three important wins last week against the Wizards, Knicks, and Mavericks. 

The Lithuanian center was absolutely dominant in all three of these games with successive double-doubles. His 30 points against Mavericks were second-best of the season, after the Hornets game in October. He also cut the Wizards traffic towards the rim zone, recorded three steals.

Sabonis is averaging 18.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists this season and producing 130 points per 100 shooting attempts (per Cleaning the Glass), where the latter best figure of his career regarding efficiency. 

His foul drawing ability is very handy when Indiana is struggling offensively on the court. Regarding the non-fouls, Sabonis maintains a 3% foul drawing rate per team player, a top 10 percentile rate in the league.

When all fouls are considered, he is among the frequently fouled players in the entire league, with 4.9 fouls drawn per game.

Sabonis does not shoot so many threes (although he increased that volume to 5 years' personal high 19%), but he played 3/3 against the Knicks and Mavericks, scored 21 and 24 points with 11 and 10 rebounds consecutively.

But in addition to that, this three-point play contribution is pretty remarkable. By using the superior finishing skills near the rim, he made 16 and one plays so far.

Most of these came from putbacks, as only Nikola Jokic and Richaun Holmes recorded a higher frequency of 'and-one' contributions with the putbacks. With all those numbers regarding and-one, it is a natural call for him to join Martyna Motum's super fun show on BasketNews, too. 

Jokic renews season-high 

As a perennial member of this weekly list, Nikola Jokic never fails to put those strong numbers in his box score sheet with different aspects each time. And sometimes, he makes it look very easy.

Jokic did the same in the past four games last week with consecutive triple-doubles in three games and two morale-boosting wins against Pelicans and Spurs. His 39 points against the Pelicans and 35 points against were season-high. Still, apart from scoring all by himself, his double-digit assist figures were even more staggering. 

Against the Bulls, he recorded the NBA's best fifth triple-double of the season while feeding Monte Morris and Aaron Gordon from the top like a delivery machine and reached his 7th game with 15 assists and more.

It is a pity that such an impressive effort remained in vain as Nuggets lost. Later on, Jokic provided a total of 21 assists in the next two games.

In the tail end of back-to-backs against Spurs, his presence in the court made a +32 plus/minus difference, which also brings us to the point of Jokic's recent defensive contribution.

When the Serbian point center is on the court, Denver lets -18.6 points per 100 possession less and shoots -8.2% worse (effective FG %), which is the highest defensive impact figure for Jokic in his entire career.

His defensive RAPTOR is +4.6 on an overall scale, which is better than Giannis Antetokounmpo and third-best among centers after Rudy Gobert and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Until Jokic's injury break, starting with the 18th of November, Denver was the 7th best defensive team in the NBA in terms of efficiency. In 10 days, Denver hit rock bottom to be the worst defensive team in the league. The impact is real.

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