Knicks PG Jalen Brunson Above Tyrese Haliburton in New NBA Player Tiers

Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, Knicks

Getty Tyrese Haliburton (L) #4 and Jalen Brunson #11 of the 2023 USA Basketball Men’s National Team run through a shooting drill at a practice session.

The debate raged after Team USA’s come-from-behind 99-91 win over Germany on Sunday on who should be Team USA’s primary point guard: Indiana Pacers’ All-Star Tyrese Haliburton or New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson?

Some league observers, including The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, believe it should be Haliburton who sparked Team USA’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half. But in the grand scheme, The Athletic’s analytics guru Seth Partnow views Brunson, who was benched for the last 16 minutes of Sunday’s match, above Haliburton in his NBA Player Tiers.

Brunson, who has been Team USA’s starting point guard since Day 1, is coming off his best season in the NBA, where he averaged a career-high 24 points and 6.2 assists as the engine of a Knicks team that went two wins away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

On the other hand, Haliburton earned his first All-Star berth while averaging a career-best 20.7 points and 10.4 assists. However, he was the No. 1 guy in a non-playoff team.

Brunson’s playoff success carries more weight as the Knicks rising star was slotted in Tier 3B (top 25-33) along with Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Khris Middleton, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Pascal Siakam, Zion Williamson and Lauri Markkanen.

Haliburton was a sub-tier below Brunson. He was lumped together with Rudy Gobert, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, LaMelo Ball and Mikal Bridges in Tier 3C (top 34-39).

Tyrese Haliburton Warns Knicks’ Josh Hart

While Haliburton maintains there is no issue on who starts at Team USA, he’s playfully joked around Brunson’s friend and longtime teammate Josh Hart that he’ll play his best against the Knicks next season.

“I’m gonna go crazy now against the Knicks,” Haliburton said in a playful banter with Hart during one of Team USA’s early practices in Las Vegas.

Their December 30 meeting in Indianapolis will mark Haliburton’s first game against the key Knicks trade deadline acquisition last season. It will also be Haliburton’s second game against the Knicks since MSG Network analyst Wally Szczerbiak called him a “Mr. Supposed, Wannabe, Fake All-Star.” While Szczerbiak publicly apologized days later, feelings have been hurt, adding to the slight of the Knicks passing up on Haliburton in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Knicks Sue Raptors, Ex-Employee

The Knicks have filed a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors, including a former employee, claiming that they stole proprietary information, a team spokesperson told Heavy Sports.

“The New York Knicks have sued the Toronto Raptors and several members of their organization, including a former Knicks employee, after the former employee illegally took thousands of proprietary files with him to his new position with the Toronto Raptors,” a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden Sports said in a statement obtained by Heavy Sports via email.

“These files include confidential information such as play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files and materials and more. Given the clear violation of our employment agreement, criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this action,” the statement continued.

The former Knicks employee was identified as Ikechukwu Azotam in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York on Monday.

Azotam previously worked as director of video/analytics/player development assistant for the Knicks until August 14.

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