NBA Legend Makes Bold Comparison to Knicks Guard Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

Getty Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks looks on during the second half at TD Garden.

The New York Knicks are one of, if not the hottest team in the NBA this season, and, while many factors have aided in their ascension up the proverbial totem pole, perhaps the most highly publicized has been the offseason addition of point guard Jalen Brunson.

Signed to a four-year, $104 million deal this past summer, the 26-year-old has been a revelation during his inaugural season in the Big Apple and, with his production, is leading this fifth-seeded Knicks team in win shares with a whopping 8.1.

Though initially deemed by some as a bit of an overpay, through 66 games played in 2022-23 the acquisition of Brunson is swiftly turning into arguably the top move from the summer and, in a recent episode of Showtime’s “Ticket & The Truth,” the show’s co-host, long-time Knicks archrival, and NBA legend Kevin Garnett went as far as to suggest that the signing could be argued as being the most impactful free agency pickup since the Golden State Warriors landed Kevin Durant in 2018.

“The Knicks are a real contender,” Garnett said. “Leon Rose and all those guys in the (front office are) looking like executives of the year with the Brunson (signing) man…Seeing what he’s doing, man, listen, I don’t know if you give him (most improved player) but he has been the most impactful player or free agent (for) a team since (Kevin Durant) going to Golden State…Brunson has made a huge difference. Like, he’s made a cultural difference.”

Kevin Garnett Says The Knicks Are "Real Contenders" | Ticket & The Truth | KG CertifiedOn the latest episode of Ticket & The Truth, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce discuss the Knicks' impressive season so far and debate how far they can go. Plus, they talk about why a Cavs vs. Knicks first-round playoff matchup would be so much fun. Watch the full episode: #SHOWTIMEBasketball #KevinGarnett #paulpierce #kgcertified #nba…2023-03-06T17:50:45Z

Through 61 games played with the Knicks, Brunson has gone on to post career highs virtually all across the board, as he finds himself averaging 23.9 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.6 rebounds on 48.7% shooting from the floor and 41.1% shooting from distance.

Already in the running for the league’s Most Improved Player award, some such as ESPN’s Michael Wilbon have gone on to suggest that the 26-year-old should also be in the conversation for the MVP award and, with the 2004 recipient of the illustrious award, Kevin Garnett’s recent praise of his value to New York, there seems to be some serious merit behind his candidacy.

Knicks Backup Guard Also in Award Hunt

Jalen Brunson is not the only Knicks backcourt talent currently found in the hunt for a prestigious league-wide award, as SNY’s Ian Begley believes that third-year guard Immanuel Quickley has put himself in a position where he could realistically take home the 2023 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

As noted in Begley’s piece, Quickley is one of just three reserves with at least 620 points, 145 assists, and 200 rebounds, with the others being Malcolm Brogdon and Russell Westbrook, both of whom have been near the top of the betting leaderboards for the honors of Sixth Man of the Year all season long.

Since his 38-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist outburst against the Boston Celtics on March 5, however, the 23-year-old has managed to jump both of the aforementioned veterans in the odds department.

Since the beginning of December, Quickley is posting stellar per-game averages of 15.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 47.3% shooting from the floor and 38.9% shooting from distance.

Knicks Big Opens Up on Workload

Amid arguably the best season of his nine-year NBA career, All-Star forward Julius Randle has been the workhorse for the New York Knicks in 2022-23, as he has yet to miss a game and ranks second in the association total minutes played with 2,374, equating to an average of 36 minutes per game.

Following their Sunday night win over the Boston Celtics, the 28-year-old was asked by a reported how he has managed to stay fresh despite such a heavy workload and, in response, the big man opened up about the steps he’s been taking to keep himself ready on a nightly basis.

“I think it’s my mental before anything. You know, a lot of work goes into that every day to make sure I’m mentally refreshed, (that I’m) coming in with a positive attitude, just feeling good about myself and what’s going on. And then I put a lot of work into my body, you know, every day, days in between games, to make sure that I’m doing things and taking necessary steps and checking things off my list to make sure every day, every game I’m coming in (and) I’m feeling good,” Randle said.

Despite his heavy usage, Julius Randle is having perhaps his best season as a member of the New York Knicks and, just recently, earned himself Player of the Week honors, as he produced to the tune of 29.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on 52.6% shooting from the floor and 46.5% shooting from deep while guiding New York to four straight wins from February 27 to March 5.

On the season as a whole, he’s averaging 25.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game on 46.8% shooting from the floor and 35.5% shooting from distance and is sporting the best box plus-minus of his career of +4.6.

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