What’s an NBA franchise without a reliable point guard to lead the way? For the Knicks, the question has loomed large in recent years but they seem to finally have an answer.
New York made headlines when it signed Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million deal this summer, a commitment that effectively handed the keys of the franchise to the 26-year-old. In doing so, Brunson was set to become the Knicks’ 11th different opening night starter at the point guard position in as many years. The hope, of course, is that the 11th time would be the charm.
Early returns suggest that with Brunson, the Knicks got it right.
While based on small sample sizes, it’s imperative to remember that early impressions of Brunson are important because of what they represent for the long run: New York having its most consistent creator in decades.
Jalen, The Creator
Notice that I said “creator” rather than “scorer” or “playmaker” because Brunson is doing plenty of both by creating for himself and others.
Through his first 10 games as a Knick, Brunson posted averages of 19.7 points per game to go along with 7.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 50.7 percent from the field. Oh, and he did it while turning the ball over under two times a game.
— NBA (@NBA) October 27, 2022
It’s early, but over the last 40 years, only four of the Knicks starting point guards have averaged at least 15 points and six assists per game while appearing in over 50 games, the most recent being Raymond Felton, who averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 assists per game in the 2010-11 season.
Brunson’s efficiency suggests that what he’s doing is sustainable, meaning he could very well be the fifth to join that list.
With time, Brunson will continue to strengthen his connection with RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, who, by the way, are the two most frequent beneficiaries of his assists, according to NBA.com Stats.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 6, 2022
If Brunson has looked this good while still getting his bearings and learning how to play with those around him, the prospect of what’s to come should certainly excite Knicks fans.
The point guard of the future
Evidenced by the life of his contract, investing in Brunson was a long-term play. Brunson will be 29 during the final year of his deal, meaning he could earn an extension during the upcoming years or yet another big payday when it’s time to re-sign.
Including Brunson, the Knicks roster has 12 players aged 26 or younger, including Barrett (22), Quentin Grimes (22), Immanuel Quickley (23), Cam Reddish (23), Mitchell Robinson (24) and Obi Toppin (24). Simply put, Brunson is the elder statesman of a younger group that is more or less on the same developmental timeline.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 25, 2022
Similar to the ways in which Brunson will develop a stronger connection with fellow members of New York’s core three this season, his influence in the development and growth of the Knicks’ young core will be felt for years to come.
Brunson fits in New York because he is the right man for the job — a steady hand and a natural leader capable of setting the table and aiding the progress of his teammates. As a player who has already advanced to the Conference Finals once in his career, Brunson knows what it takes to lead the Knicks back to a level that they have not reached since 2000, restoring a bit of hope in the fanbase in the process. That, alone, counts for a lot.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 27, 2022
When he joined the franchise in the 2022 offseason, it was clear that Brunson wanted to be in New York and New York wanted Brunson. That desire matched with his winning pedigree is exactly why the pairing will pay dividends.