Knicks’ Jalen Brunson Trumps Iverson, Jordan’s History vs. Bucks

Jalen Brunson

Getty Jalen Brunson celebrates a made three-pointer during a March 31 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With the 2023-2024 season winding down, the only question for the New York Knicks revolves around the inabilities of Jalen Brunson. More specifically, what can’t he do?

New York’s starting point guard scored 43 points in an April 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, completing a historic season performance along the way.

With 186 points against the Bucks on the season, Brunson passes Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan for the most points scored against Milwaukee in a season.

It’s just the latest accolade for the Knicks star, in a season that’s featured countless.

New York will need him to keep it up, down Julius Randle, with the playoffs looming.

But who the Knicks will play, and what seed they’ll finish, is largely up in air with four games remaining.

Knicks Lost in Eastern Conference Shuffle

Going into an April 8 matchup against the Chicago Bulls, New York sits as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

But with four games left, they’re two games back of the second seed, and three games ahead of the eighth seed.

Tiebreakers further complicate the situation. If the Knicks finish tied in the standings with any of the Bucks, Indiana Pacers, or Orlando Magic–they fall behind them in the standings.

But if they finish tied with any of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, or Philadelphia 76ers–they get the benefit of the higher seed.

Remaining schedule strength doesn’t bode well for New York.

Among the eight playoff teams in the East, they’ve got the third-hardest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon.

It will take more heroics from Brunson, and a near-undefeated finish to the year, in order to secure a top-six spot.

He recently finished sixth in an ESPN straw poll for the MVP award.

Could he climb those rankings if the Knicks secure a non-play-in seed for playoffs?

JJ Redick Backs Brunson’s MVP Case

On an April 7 episode of his podcast, “The Old Man and the Three,” JJ Redick made his case for Jalen Brunson, MVP.

“I think there’s legitimate buzz of him maybe creeping around the top-five of the MVP voting,” Redick told guests Nekias Duncan and Steve Jones. “He’s been that good this year. He was phenomenal last year, he’s been even better this year…He has, along with Thibs and that group, sans Randle, they have figured out a counter for every coverage. And it’s been phenomenal to watch.”

Brunson’s ability to lift New York without Randle has certainly helped his case.

Since the Knicks’ second-best player went down with a shoulder injury, he’s averaged 30.6 points, 7.1 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.

The team is 17-12 without Randle, or 17-9 if you scratch the games Brunson missed.

Redick had a subsequent message for NBA fans who haven’t been paying attention to New York’s point guard.

“I wanna state clearly. If you think Jalen Brunson is a top-30 player, you are vastly underestimating him. He’s closer to that 10-15. You could probably argue this season, a little bit higher.”

Against all other NBA players this season,Brunson ranks fourth in total points (2,058), fifth in field goals made (738), and sixth in plus-minus (+467), 10th in assists (489), and 12th in minutes (2,576.1).

It’s been an up-and-down season for the New York Knicks, but Jalen Brunson has been a stabilizing force, night in and night out. His ability to continue performing at this level in the playoffs will determine the length of their run.