When the Knicks signed (read: tampered) Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks this summer, no one really knew what to expect from the Knicks. After getting embarrassed by Trae Young in 2021 and missing the play-in tournament in 2022, many wondered if the diminutive Mavs sixth man was worth the hype.
The worry was all for naught.
The son of a nine-year NBA vet, by the time Brunson entered college he had won a high school championship, a FIBA U-18 gold medal, and was named Illinois Mr. Basketball. He was the No. 1 point guard in his class and joined Villanova ready to ball.
He started for head coach Jay Wright immediately and helped captain the team to an NCAA tournament title his freshman season only to double down his junior season by winning another NCAA title and being named John R. Wooden Award winner.
He was the Tom Brady of amateur sports.
Landing in Dallas, Brunson was stuck coming off the bench for a team with a clear alpha in Luka Doncic. While he produced some great games and garnered some votes for Sixth Man of the Year, the Mavericks were never going to be Brunson's team.
So he left.
Joining a Knicks franchise that was desperate for a star, Jalen has taken the mantle and run with it. The Knicks are flirting around the No. 6 seed as we approach the All-Star break and Brunson is hitting career highs.
He's averaging 22.5 points per game, 6.2 assists per game, getting to the free throw line more than ever before and still hitting 40% from three. It's a season worthy of All-Star consideration.
Most importantly, his play is garnering praise from all over.
It's becoming pretty clear that Jalen Brunson runs New York. How far they go may be determined by how far he takes them.