Knicks Star Jalen Brunson Gets MVP Endorsement From Top NBA Coach

Knicks star Jalen Brunson in MVP conversation

Getty Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks reacts after making a three-pointer.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has grown accustomed to Jalen Brunson‘s brilliance.

Spoelstra coached against the New York Knicks star and tried everything in his defensive playbook to stop him last spring. But still, Brunson nearly single-handedly beat his vaunted Heat team in the second round of the playoffs last season, averaging 31.0 points on 50.4% shooting and 6.3 assists. Then in the summer, he coached the Knicks star at Team USA in the FIBA World Cup in Manila, Philippines.

So when he heaped praise on Brunson before the Heat beat the Knicks 109-99 on Tuesday, April 2, in Miami, it was not just a lip service.

“He’s having an MVP-type season,” Spoelstra told reporters, per New York Post. “He’s at that level right now where you’re not taking things away from him.”

Spoelstra, voted by the general managers as the top coach in the NBA regarding motivating players, in-game adjustments and the best defensive schemes, described how difficult it was to hold Brunson to 20 points on 5 of 18 shooting night.

“It is difficult because you corral him and then now they have the three-point shooters,” Spoelstra told reporters after the game. “Probably everybody’s saying, ‘How did he get open? That’s how he got open.’

Great players force you to bring a second defender and sometimes a third defender and then you have to scramble and make things up from there. But he’s that good right now. His footwork and his cleverness, his aggressiveness playing against your aggressiveness, the entire package just makes it extremely challenging. You just have to be absolutely rock solid and disciplined and sometimes he’s going to make shots even when you do that.”

Jalen Brunson Named NBA Player of the Month

Brunson went to Tuesday’s game against Miami as the newly minted-NBA Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks All-Star point guard averaged 28.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while leading the Knicks to a 9-5 record despite the absence of their other All-Star, Julius Randle (dislocated shoulder), and OG Anunoby playing only in three games in a brief return before re-aggravating his elbow injury.

He scored a career-high 61 points in a 130-126 overtime loss to San Antonio on March 29. It was the second most points scored by a Knicks player in a single game in the franchise history, just one point shy of Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points in 2014.

Brunson is averaging a career-high 27.8 points and 6.6 assists this season.

Jalen Brunson Takes Blame in Knicks Loss

Despite Spoelstra giving Brunson his flowers, the Knicks star was inconsolable after the loss. Brunson had every right to use his cold as an excuse as it affected his overall effectivity. But he didn’t. Instead, he took the blame for their third straight loss.

“Everyone else did their job except for me,” Brunson told reporters. ““[The cold] doesn’t matter.”

He was hard on himself after committing an uncharacteristic five turnovers.

[Expletive] carelessness,” Brunson said.

Despite Brunson hitting 9 of 10 free throws, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau felt he should have had more.

“It says 10 free throws, but he’s getting fouled. I hate to say it, it’s that simple,” Thibodeau told reporters before sounding like a broken record.

“He’s getting fouled,” Thibodeau said six times.