New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson has not had it easy with the media in the 2023-24 NBA season. As his game has reached new heights, so has the criticism he’s received, not only for his present performance, but also for those of his past as well.
Some have come with the territory of Brunson establishing himself as an elite scorer in the league at 26.6 points per game. Others, such as being left off as a starter in the 2024 All-Star game, could be chalked up to having stiff competition at his position in the Eastern Conference.
Is Jalen Brunson having a better season than Domantas Sabonis?
NBA.com’s latest MVP ladder did not include Brunson’s name in its top 10, nor its honorable mentions.
While Brunson may be a step behind the bulk of the top 10 headlined by former MVPs Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), one name that he stacks up against is Sacramento Kings star Domantas Sabonis.
Though Sabonis is dominating opponents with 12.7 rebounds and an astounding eight assists per game as a power forward, Brunson has a considerable scoring advantage as the league’s 12th-highest scorer, whereas Sabonis is scratching at the surface at 19.9 PPG.
Brunson also has the Knicks (29-17) with a better record than the Kings (28-16) in an Eastern Conference whose playoff race is just as tight as the Western Conference, including an unprecedented 12-2 record in their last 14 games.
Brunson deserves an honorable mention for his scoring and distributing on a winning Knicks team
Among honorable mentions, Brunson did not find favor over Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves), Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers), Damian Lillard (Milwaukee Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers) or Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans).
Haliburton and Lillard also beat Brunson out as ASG starters. Edwards is in the driver’s seat of a Timberwolves team that is No. 2 in the West and looking like legitimate championship contenders while Williamson is second in the league averaging 17.1 points in the paint per contest and is back to his dominant level of play.
Brunson could eclipse Edwards or Mitchell in the next MVP ladder honorable mentions, as he outpaces both guards in field goal and three-point percentage while being sandwiched between them in the scoring leaderboard. The Knicks will continue to rely on Brunson’s elite play as they make a push for ascension in the East standings.
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