2-Time WNBA Coach Sounds Off on Knicks Star Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Knicks

Getty Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks dribbles against Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Two-time WNBA coach Becky Hammon does not believe in Jalen Brunson as the star who could lead the New York Knicks to crack the elite tier in the Eastern Conference populated by the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

“They’re not getting into that tier,” Hammon said of the Knicks on Thursday, December 21, on “NBA Today.” “They don’t have enough personnel. They don’t have the manpower that they need to hang with those guys.”

“I think you’re going to get a consistent team like they’ve been a pretty good team. They’re well-coached. They’re going to be on their defensive game but at the end of the day, they don’t have a dude. You got to have a dude — a 1A dude and they’re missing that.”

‘Jalen Brunson is Too Small’

The 6-foot-2 Brunson has blossomed into a star in New York, but he fell short in the second round of the playoffs against the eventual Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat. This year, Brunson is taking his game to another level, averaging career highs in scoring (25.3), rebounds (4.0), steals (1.1) and 3-point shooting (46%).

But the Knicks’ record against the elite teams does not inspire confidence. They are 0-5 against the Bucks and the Celtics.

“Jalen Brunson is too small,” Hammon said.

It’s the same criticism that Brunson has been constantly defying since he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. It’s also the same attribute that prevented Hammon from winning a WNBA championship as a player.

“My philosophy, if your best player is small, you’re not winning [championships],” Hammon said.

She listed small players from John Stockton to Allen Iverson and Steve Nash who failed to lead their teams to a title.

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, she said, is the outlier.

“He’s the greatest shooter to ever walk the planet,” Hammon said of Curry.

“I’m saying this [about Brunson] as a small person. This is a game that [favors] the big and bold. It favors that god-given gift and I love Jalen Brunson but are you going to put him on the level of a 1A, are you putting him with Giannis [Antetokounmpo]?”

Knicks Project Mitchell Robinson to Miss Rest of Season

The Knicks have applied to the NBA for a Disabled Player Exception worth $7.8 million as they project that Mitchell Robinson will miss the rest of the season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

If the Knicks successfully get approved for the DPE, they would be able to use that in a limited capacity since they are hard-capped at $172.3 million.

According to Knicks Film School’s cap guru Jeremy Cohen, the Knicks can only use the exception on one player who is on an expiring contract. Or they could sign a free agent to a one-year deal using the exception.

New York’s center rotation got thinner after Jericho Sims also sustained an ankle injury on Monday, December 18, during their 114-109 road win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Sims is expected to be out for one to two weeks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.


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