The Jam had a bit of a disappointing week, especially considering that the team had won four of its last five games coming in. The team struggled, finishing 1-2, while putting up its second lowest scoring output of the year, in a 3-point loss to Canton. While the overall outcome may have been disappointing, the Jam did have a few individuals that excelled, none more so than Earl Barron, who had one game in particular that was quite impressive.
Regardless, over the last week, the team struggled to shoot the ball, hitting the 30% mark from three-point range in just one game. This was especially detrimental for the Jam, who before the year had talked about trying to mirror the play of the Suns.
However, the future looks bright for Bakersfield, who will face four teams over the next 10 or so days that are below the .500 mark on the year. After that, it will get a lot tougher for the team, with three straight games against team’s above .500, all of which will come on the road. In fact, when all is said and done, the Jam will have played a 5-game road trip, starting on December 27 and going until January 3.
The player of the week for the Jam had to be Earl Barron, who poured in an incredible performance on Thursday, racking up 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting, while grabbing 12 rebounds. Barron continued to show why he is among the D-League’s best, and his 43 points were more than any two other players in the game (on either team) combined. Barron’s performance capped off a strong week, where he averaged 30.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, tallying three double-doubles and shooting over 56% from the floor.
Mac Koshwal also had a strong week, averaging 15.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Around 40% of Koshwal’s rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball, but he also made his mark on defense, averaging 3.7 combined blocks and steals per game, which led the team. While Koshwal did see his field goal percentage dip by just less than 10%, he’s still shooting a remarkable 60.9% from the field on the season, which puts him at ninth in the entire D-League. That is especially notable, because only one player above him on that last, Renaldo Balkman, has attempted more field goals.
Elijah Millsap, on the other hand, seemed to get a little worn down as the week went on. Millsap began the week with a video game-type performance against Reno, putting up 25 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals in the Jam’s narrow loss, but that would be as good as it got for the Louisiana-native. Millsap would finish the week averaging 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the team’s last two games, which was certainly down from his average line of 20.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game on the year.
Over the last week, the Jam shot just 20-of-72 (27.8%) from three, which is a number that needs to improve. The team’s inability to hit three-point shots was a big part of why they lost two of three games on the week, with the team’s only win coming against the lowly Los Angeles D-Fenders. The lone win for the Jam also marked the only game in which the team shot over 25% from deep, which continues to be the key for Bakersfield’s success.
For only the second time this season, the team failed to reach the 100-point mark against Canton on Thursday, and it’s worth noting that dating back to last year, the team has won just one time in in its last 15 games when failing to score 100 points.
The D-League is somewhat different than the NBA in that 77.8% of the teams average over 100 points per game, with around 45% of teams averaging over 110 points per game. Comparatively speaking, only one of the 30 NBA teams (3.3%) averages at least 110 points per game, while less than 60% average 100 points per game.
Those numbers show that scoring is really more important in the D-League, considering teams really like to get up and down the floor. After all, the NBA’s leader in field goal attempts per game is Boston, at 89.0. Not only are there eight teams attempting more than that in the D-League, but at the top, Reno is averaging over 113 field goal attempts per game, which is more than a 25% increase from the Celtics’ number.
Ultimately, for the Jam to get back to winning ways, the team will need to play more efficiently on the offensive side of the ball, especially considering that in the next week the Jam will face off against two of the top four scoring teams in the D-League.
Numbers to note
- Despite going 1-2 over the last week, the Jams still managed to out-produce their opponents in the aggregate, with an average score line of 115-111. The Jam also rank sixth in the D-League in average margin of victory, outscoring opponents by 4.2 points per game on average.
- No player on the Jam is among the top-20 players in the D-League in free throw percent or three-point percent, which is a bit of a deviation from the Suns, who happen to lead the league in free throw percentage, while sitting at fourth in three-point percentage.
- Elijah Millsap (left) leads the D-League with 29 total steals, despite the fact that he is just 63rd in steals-to-turnover ratio, with 0.46. Millsap also leads the D-League in minutes, despite playing in one fewer game than the player directly behind him on the list, Roscoe Smith.
- The Bakersfield Jam currently lead the entire D-League in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds (obviously), assists and steals, although much of that is due to the fact that the Jam have already played 11 games, and only one other team has played more than that.
- The Jam are tied for second in the D-League in average minutes played per game, as they’ve already played in four overtime periods, three of which came in the team’s 151-148 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
While it was a bit of a disappointing week for the Jam, they’ll have a chance to bounce back, as they’ll face three teams that are all below .500. Specifically, the game against Reno should be fun to watch, as the teams come into the game ranked first and third in scoring the D-League. This will also offer the Jam a chance at redemption, as they were defeated by Reno during the last week. The other two games, against Westchester and Idaho, will provide the Jam with two games against opponents that the team has yet to face this year.
It will be interesting to see if Earl Barron can keep up his tremendous start to the season, as he’s currently top-10 in the D-League in points and rebounds. Xavier Munford will be another player to look out for in that game, as he’s averaged 22.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game against the Bighorns this year.
After going 1-2 over the last week, the Jam fell to 6-5 on the year, so this will be the first time that the team has a chance to fall below the .500 mark in a while. One would have to expect that the team will come out with a little extra fire, as the players look to stay above .500, and ultimately, the Jam should end the week with two or three victories.