Jalen Brunson Deserves the Bag

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Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson is in the midst of his best season yet. Considering the fact that this is a contract year for Brunson, he couldn’t have chosen a better time. There’s no question that Brunson will get paid this offseason because that’s well-deserved. The real question is going to be who decides to pay him, and which team Brunson selects.

Jalen Brunson Deserves the Bag

The Statistics

Brunson became a starter for Dallas this offseason. An injury to Tim Hardaway Jr only furthered Brunson’s importance to the Mavericks.

The Villanova product is averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game thus far this season. He also sports a very solid 50/39/82 shooting split. The statistics are very solid, but even better when one considers that he’s doing it next to a ball-dominant star in Luka Doncic. More than that too, the recently acquired Spencer Dinwiddie also features as a major ball-handler in Dallas.

Last season, Brunson averaged 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. The improvement in statistics is obvious, but the eye test shows so much more. Brunson was always a solid catch-and-shoot player. That hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is Brunson’s confidence in creating his own shot. He can dribble around players with ease, play ISO offense, and is a real weapon in the mid-range game. In December, Brunson scored 15 or more points in 11 of 16 games. January numbers were good as well and in February, he did it in seven out of 10 games.

These statistics aren’t just a product of playing next to Doncic either. In a win versus the Sacramento Kings, where Doncic was sidelined with injury, Brunson scored 23 points and dished out six assists. His most important assist was a fantastic one to Dorian Finney-Smith on the three-point line in the dying embers of the game to win it.

Teams Will Be Circling Jalen Brunson

There’s no question that Dallas would like to hold on to Brunson. With that being said, Doncic’s mega-extension kicks in this offseason while the Mavericks have a variety of big contracts including those belonging to Dinwiddie, Hardaway Jr., Davis BertansReggie Bullock, and Dwight Powell. Finding the right amount of cap space will be hard to come by, but Dallas must prioritize this if they really want to hang onto Brunson.

Two teams that will show heavy interest in Brunson are the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons.

Brunson’s father is a former client of Knicks president Leon Rose. Perhaps that means nothing, but it may also mean there are connections there. Furthermore, New York desperately needs a point guard. The Kemba Walker experiment failed, while Derrick Rose is getting older and is injury prone. Alec Burks is not the answer at that position, and the Knicks need new blood after struggling all season long. Brunson could very well be the boost the Knicks need.

Then there’s the Detroit Pistons. Rookie Cade Cunningham has a similar style to Doncic, so the Pistons can see the backcourt fit of Brunson on the team. Furthermore, Detroit will have plenty of money to throw Brunson’s way. Detroit also has a decent young core, Jerami Grant, and likely a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. That presents an interesting project that Brunson can be a part of.

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