ESPN’s Wojnarowski on Jalen Brunson, Knicks: ‘They Didn’t Expect This’

Jalen Brunson

Getty Jalen Brunson celebrates a made three-pointer during an April 9 game against the Chicago Bulls.

Another year, another leap for New York Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson, with MVP votes and a second consecutive postseason appearance on the way.

He concluded his first All-Star season with a 40-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound performance in an overtime win over the Chicago Bulls. New York is the second seed in the Eastern Conference, prepping for a first-round series with the winner of the Miami Heat-Philadelphia 76ers play-in game.

But before that Sunday matinee against the Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski offered a lot of praise for Brunson and the Knicks, which fans know by now is increasingly rare.

Wojnarowski says Brunson’s rise has surprised everyone, even the Knicks coaching staff and front office.

“Even the Knicks didn’t really know,” Wojnarowski said. And they know him better than anybody. His dad’s on the staff. His former agent, Leon Rose, is their president. They didn’t expect this. They knew they were getting a potential All-Star point guard. They’re getting a player now, who can be the best player on a legitimate contender.”

He pointed to Brunson’s seeming ability to continue progressing, no matter what new heights he reaches each year.

“It is hard to remember a player who has taken steps the way he has. And you stop saying that he can’t be the best player on a championship team. Because every time you say that’s as far as you can go with Jalen Brunson, he elevates it again.”

Brunson’s career has been a steady incline in almost all facets of his game since he was drafted in–what is increasingly hard to believe–the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

“What Jalen Brunson has done, not just this season for the Knicks, but coming out of Villanova, he wasn’t a mystery,” Wojnarowski continued. “He was a national player of the year in college basketball. He won multiple college championships at Villanova. He didn’t play out of the spotlight. He still wasn’t a first-round pick.”

One oversight from Mark Cuban and company cemented his future as one of the greatest New York Knicks of all time–well, probably. Once everything is said and done.

Jalen Brunson finishes his second season having played 76 games and averaging 28.6 points, 6.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game. He was second only to Luka Doncic in 40-point games.

Woj: Mavericks Fumbled Brunson’s Contract

Wojnarowski made sure to mention how Brunson escaped the Dallas Mavericks for the Big Apple.

“The Mavericks had a chance to resign him to really, low extension number. They didn’t do it fast enough, they lose him in free agency.”

Wojnarowski is referring to the four-year, $55-million extension offer that never materialized in Dallas.

Brunson was prepared to sign a deal for that offer during the 2021-2022 season.

But the Mavericks elected to hold off, and the rest is history. New York signed Brunson to a four-year, $104-million deal that looks like a bargain more and more every day.

His pending extension talks with the Knicks will be a running headline this summer. But first things first, he and New York are headed to the playoffs, down one Julius Randle.

It will take MVP-caliber play from Brunson if the Knicks are to make noise in the postseason. Luckily for him, that’s no different than how he’s played all season.

Brunson in the MVP Polls

You’re hearing Jalen Brunson and the term MVP in the same sentence more and more. Most recently, ESPN’s Tim Legler ranked him fourth on an April 11 episode of NBA Today.

“No. 4, I’m going to go with Jalen Brunson,” Legler said no NBA Today. “He’s going to get some votes, man! And I think what it comes down to is when you look at the injuries they’ve dealt with and just the load he has to carry every night at the point guard position from a scoring standpoint just to keep them in games. It’s really remarkable what Jalen Brunson has able to do. You can’t get him off his game I’m going to put him solidly at [No. 4].”

Brunson finished eighth on Michael Wright‘s April 12 rankings for

On April 10, insider Ramona Shelburne told NBA Today co-hosts she’s got the Knicks point guard on her MVP ballot. Longtime analyst Dick Vitale tweeted on April 14 that Brunson “belongs in the (MVP) conversation.”

Brunson’s MVP status has transcended chants by fans mid-game.

It’s an actual narrative, a tangible fact.

While it’s highly unlikely he’ll beat out either Doncic or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the award, his being here was unthinkable years ago when he began his NBA journey.

The New York Knicks will need him to continue accomplishing the unexpected come playoffs.

And knowing Jalen Brunson, it’s a safe bet to say he will.