As free agency opened last week, the New York Knicks agreed to a deal with former Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson.
Brunson has played in Dallas his entire NBA career, after getting selected by the Mavericks with the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Standing at 6 ft 1 in, Brunson spent his impressive college career leading the Villanova Wildcats to two NCAA National Championships in 2016 and 2018. He also received an array of other awards in 2018, including the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s best point guard.
What kind of player are the Knicks getting?
Brunson has been a known talent since his first year at Villanova. Even without his two NCAA championships, Brunson’s college stats make for impressive reading. Over three years of play, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. He also shot around 40% from outside the arc, 60% from two-point range and 80% from the free-throw line.
Part of what intrigued the Knicks to sign Jalen Brunson to a 4-year $104 million deal was his stellar performance in this past year’s playoffs. He averaged almost 22 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds while carrying a Mavericks team that had lost star man Luka Doncic to injury.
In fact, in the absence of Doncic, Brunson averaged 20.4 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds when Doncic did not suit up. The Knicks hope Brunson can return to his playoff-caliber standards as he becomes one of the main focuses of the New York offense. Stepping out of the shadow of one of the league’s superstars may just allow him to flourish.
So, what does this all mean for the Knicks?
Last year, the Knicks had a very disappointing season, missing the play-in game and receiving the 11th overall pick in the recent NBA draft. To the disproval of many Knicks fans, the team decided to clear cap space to go after Brunson, further proving the team’s confidence in his ability to lead the team.
Additionally, this move provides the Knicks with stability at the point guard position. With some 25 different starting point guards in the last 10 years, Brunson brings something the Knicks have not had in a long time. Although Knicks fans might be disappointed that they haven’t made a blockbuster trade or that the team missed out on former San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, Knicks president Leon Rose has assured fans that they must continue to follow their plan and not get tempted on trading foundational pieces for stars.
What does this season look like for the Knicks? Given the team’s trajectory, fans hope for a lot more stability amongst the whole team. Last year, the point guard position was a revolving door with Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley each receiving starts at the position.
This year shapes up to be a different story with Jalen Brunson’s insertion into the lineup and Immanuel Quickley’s strong play towards the end of last season. If the Knicks want to contend for a playoff spot, the play of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle must elevate. The Knicks hope the signing of Jalen Brunson will space the floor and take pressure off the stars.