Are the Knicks’ injuries affecting Jalen Brunson’s shooting?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks injuries have not only affected the team’s depth on paper, but they have also affected Jalen Brunson’s three-point shooting.

Since Julius Randle and OG Anunoby went down with injuries, Brunson is shooting just 31.9% from three. His season average is still at a blistering 41.1%, but that is a 1% drop-off from before the injuries mounted up.

Jalen Brunson has had to work harder to score

Brunson is still averaging 32.9 points and 6.5 assists over that span, which are superstar-like numbers. However, his shot volume has increased significantly, as he has attempted at least 21 shots in every game since the injuries, including two games with over 30 attempts.

Brunson seems to have to fight tooth and nail to get clean looks, as now opposing teams are putting nearly all the pressure on him. Earlier this month against the Los Angeles Lakers, New York went nearly eight minutes scoreless in the fourth quarter after L.A. sent the calvary at Brunson, a game that they wound up losing despite entering the quarter with a lead.

The Knicks have also struggled to score in the minutes Brunson is not on the floor. In their last game against the Orlando Magic, the Knicks allowed 17 straight points to Orlando before scoring, all while Brunson was off the floor.

The Knicks’ injuries could be the reason for Brunson’s shooting slump

It is possible that the drop-off in long-distance shooting can be attributed to fatigue from the increased usage, but it could also be due to a lack of shooting around Brunson amidst the injuries.

What makes Anunoby and Randle fit well with Brunson is that they are scoring threats from every part of the court, which forces teams to focus on them. With the injuries, head coach Tom Thibodeau has been starting Josh Hart and Precious Achiuwa together, two guys who struggle to score beyond the mid-range.

Starting Bojan Bogdanovic may help in the interim

If Thibodeau wants to open up the floor more for Brunson until Anunoby and Randle return, he may consider starting newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic over Hart. Bogdanovic is averaging 19.7 points and is shooting 40.8% from three. His ability to be a lethal outside threat could open up the floor for Brunson to get cleaner looks.

Regardless, Brunson and the Knicks needed the All-Star break more than any other team, as it allows them to rest and get closer to full strength. The Knicks return to action on Feb. 22, when they will face a shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers squad. The hope is that Randle and Anunoby can return before the end of the month.

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