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

People tend to feel better and more optimistic when the calendar turns to a new year, and the NBA community did not stand as an exception last week… Until bad news came from Ricky Rubio

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis  Antetokounmpo
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Position: PF, SF
Age: 27
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Birth place: Athens, Greece

The Spanish combo guard was having one of his best seasons in the NBA and anchoring the Cleveland Cavaliers to a surprising playoff spot with 13.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game figures.

But unfortunately, he suffered an ACL tear in the game against the Pelicans in the last two minutes, where he was headed for a triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Reportedly, he has to watch his teammates from the stands until the end of the season. The severeness of the injury also casts a doubt for EuroBasket availability. Still, regardless, he got immense support from his various fellow teammates and coaches like Pablo Laso, Nikola Mirotic, Sergio Scariolo, Jose Calderon, and many more in social media.

Nevertheless, there are some feel-good stories, too. 

After being sidelined due to injury for nearly 20 days, Luka Doncic returned with a double-figure assists number (10) to flirt with a triple-double and led Dallas Mavericks to the third win in their last five games.

In Doncic's absence, Kristaps Porzingis stepped up, including three impressive games last week where the Latvian scored 34-24-24 against Portland Trailblazers and Sacramento Kings (twice) before getting rest against OKC Thunder.

Meanwhile, Omer Yurtseven's career night with 22 points and 16 rebounds was another highlight for the NBA Euro players. Still, despite the effort, Yurtseven didn't lead the shorthanded Miami Heat against Sacramento Kings.

Even long-time sleeper Davis Bertans started to contribute to the Wizards' offensive department, as he provided double-digit scoring (14 points against the 76ers and 19 points against the Heat) for the first time this season with a total of 9/19 3 point shooting.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis  Antetokounmpo
Giannis  Antetokounmpo
MIN: 32.37
PTS: 27.83 (59.23%)
REB: 11.57
As: 5.9
ST: 1.1
BL: 1.53
TO: 3.27
GM: 30

It is nice to observe some signs of life from a Latvian sharpshooter, finally. Tomas Satoransky of Pelicans and Furkan Korkmaz of 76ers also need a wake-up call as their offensive contribution is way below what they used to bring. 

Otherworldly Giannis Rises to the top of MVP standings

The reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo plays something else these days. After rejoining the Bucks from the Covid-19 protocols, he recorded 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists game three times out of four. The outcome? Three more wins this past week.

Giannis' return with a higher level also elevates Bucks' offensive output. They reached new heights with 127, 136, and 136 points scored in consecutive victories against the Orlando Magic (2) and the New Orleans Pelicans. 

On Saturday against the Pelicans, Giannis reached the second triple-double of the season with 35 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. 

With the support of all these supreme contributions, Giannis Antetokounmpo took a giant leap to the top of the MVP ladder after falling to 5th place during his protocol-related setback.

In his last 5 games, Giannis averaged 30.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists with 57.3% from the field. 

Yet, his closest Euro rival, Nikola Jokic, did not stop, too. The Serbian Joker is currently sitting in 4th place in MVP Ladder but recorded two strong double-double performances this past week to carry Denver Nuggets beyond 0.5 wins again in the West.

Credit https://www.bball-index.com/leaderboards-tool/

 

Credit https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/nba-player-ratings/

One of Jokic's best highlights of the week was his 22 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists showdown, including the game-winning block. Per NBA Advanced Stats, Jokic's Player Impact Estimate is somewhat higher than Antetokounmpo (23.6 vs. 20.7), where both players sit at the very top of the list. More advanced evaluation metrics also indicate that Jokic's contribution is the best among the league against anyone else. According to FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR and bball-index.com's LEBRON advanced impact indexes, Giannis Antetokounmpo comes 2nd, only after Jokic.

Wagner is the sole sorcerer of the Magic

Franz Wagner keeps improving his individual records, but all his effort fall short of getting the wins for Orlando Magic.

During the week's final game yesterday, Wagner had a relatively silent night against Boston Celtics, where he scored 14, and the Magic failed to stop Jaylen Brown, who finished the game with 50 points. That was the culmination of a five-game losing series.

During the week, No 8. pick of the 2021 Draft just scored a career-high 38 points against the Bucks with 7 rebounds and 3 assists, as well. He also supported that surreal display of offensive prowess in the next game with yet another 20 point game against the title holders and current season's Top 10 defensive team. 

Using his mobility, shooting range, and ability to produce his own shots from the pick and rolls, Wagner did not show any hesitations to come against aggressive defenders like Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He also learns how to get to the line more frequently, which adds to his overall offensive effectiveness. During his first month in the NBA, Wagner was averaging 1.6 fouls drown and sending 1.9 free throws. In the last 10 games, he is coming to the line 5.4 times per game and the fouls drawn average rose to 3.5. His foul shooting shares increased from 4% in the first month to 12% currently. The kid is learning rapidly. 

The German forward is currently averaging 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists for the season he took those figures to even more impressive levels with 23.2 points,4.2 rebounds, and 40% three-point shooting.

Just before New Years' Eve, Wagner rose to the top Rookie of the Year Candidate list, getting above Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, and Cade Cunningham in the top 3. 

Gobert the Double-Double Machine

The NBA Euro squad also dominates the 'The most double-doubles in the season' list, spearheaded by Rudy Gobert (30) and Domantas Sabonis (26). Both big men added 4 more double-doubles to their account since 26th December with a basic difference: Gobert's efforts get to steer the Jazz reach winning ways, Sabonis' tenacity just fell short.  

The Warriors, the team with the best record and the most efficient defensive team in the NBA, stopped the Jazz's winning run of 8 games, and even Gobert's 20 points, 19 rebounds, and 9/10 FG was not enough to change that.  

While it is not a big surprise for Gobert to reach double-digit rebounding numbers that frequently, his offensive efficiency has shown a great improvement this season. 

The Frenchman does not score torrentially but very constantly. Out of 36 games this season, only 6 times Gobert falls below double-digit scoring, and 11 times, he has scored 20 or more points.

That is 6 more than the same amount of game last season, which is reflected in his points per game and points per possessions stats: Compared to 14.2 pts and 1.11 PPP in 2020-2021, the same figures are 15.7 and 1.26 this season. 

Per Cleaning the Glass, his points per shot attempt is 144,3 with a 15.1% usage rate, the best in his team and also, his personal career. Also, his effective field goal accuracy is 71.6%, the third-best in the league.

As a natural connection, most of this percentage has something to do with Gobert's gold class finishing close to the rim in the second chances. It is not a big surprise that he's the league's current leader in points scored from putbacks.

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2022-01-10
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