The New York Knicks filled a hole that’s been gaping for decades now by signing Jalen Brunson to be their point guard.
New York was able to convince him to leave the Dallas Mavericks, a team set up to compete for a championship, so he could come to the Knicks and become the leading man.
Brunson will be joining a core consisting of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, two players who both play best with the ball in their hands, so the fit will be interesting to look at over the first few games of the year.
CBS Sports writer Michael Kaskey-Blomain predicts Brunson could make the All-Star team for the first time this season, and that would break a streak dating back to the 1980s which is the last time a Knicks point guard was named an All-Star.
Big Leap for Brunson
While Brunson has been a solid player, he’s also been playing in Luka Doncic’s shadow, so he didn’t ever get to showcase what he could blossom into. Mavs fans saw flashes of it when Doncic was down with an injury, and a notable performance comes in last season’s playoffs when Brunson went off for 41 points against the Utah Jazz.
With the Knicks, he’ll be playing a big role, and Kaskey-Blomain says this is what will allow Brunson to be in the running for an All-Star nod.
“Brunson projects to be the Knicks’ lead guard next season (and beyond, given the fact that he inked a huge four-year deal with the team over the summer),” he wrote. “With that distinction comes an increase in responsibility, and likely a major bump in production.”
While he’ll be competing for shots with Barrett and Randle, in a perfect world he’d have the ball in his hands the majority of the time, which means he’d be the lead playmaker and have a better opportunity to get shots up for himself.
Kaskey-Blomain believes the contract Brunson was given means the Knicks will want him to be aggressive, and that could lead to a stat increase across the board.
“Also, after paying him over $100 million, the Knicks will be looking for him to be extremely assertive,” he continued. “As a result, he’ll likely take more than the career-high 12.8 shots he attempted per game last season, and he’ll also have the ball in his hands much more to create for others.”
Having the name value already, the only thing that’s missing for Brunson is the production, and that’s what could lead him to the All-Star appearance.
“Brunson should easily average career highs in assists and points per game this season, and such elevated production could land him his first All-Star nod,” Kaskey-Blomain concludes.
Could Snap a Long Streak
According to Basketball Reference, the last time a Knicks point guard was named to the All-Star team was Mark Jackson back in the 1988-89 season.
The last perennial All-Star for the Knicks was Carmelo Anthony, with his last appearance coming in 2016-17. Throughout the ’90s, the last time the Knicks were a playoffs mainstay, Patrick Ewing was named to the team each year and in the 1993-94 season he was joined by John Starks and Charles Oakley.
Fast forward to 2022 and the Knicks are hoping Randle can find his form again, Barrett continues his development and Brunson is the man they signed him to be. All three of them flash All-Star potential, and perhaps that could come into fruition within the next few years.