For years, the conversation around the New York Knicks has been that they don’t have a superstar. However, that narrative could end very soon, as point guard Jalen Brunson’s rise to stardom continues to rapidly climb each day.
In Saturday’s blowout win against the Toronto Raptors, Brunson logged 38 points on 56% shooting while adding five rebounds and nine assists. It was his fourth consecutive 30-point game, and he has bumped his season average to a career-high 26.3 points per game while shooting extremely efficient numbers from the field (47%) and from three-point range (42%).
Jalen Brunson is evolving into a star
It would appear that he is quickly becoming more than just an All-Star caliber player. He currently averages more points than two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard, and four-time MVP LeBron James, all guys who are commonly referred to as superstars in the NBA.
On top of that, Brunson is fourth in the NBA in total points scored, according to Statmuse. He ranks above very high-level talented players including Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Steph Curry in that category.
Brunson’s ability to score is almost unlike any other player. He doesn’t do it with flashy dunks or half-court threes, but rather with finesse and craftiness that makes him a nightmare for opposing players to guard, and his efforts deserve incredible recognition.
In addition, he is doing great things for the Knicks in other areas as well, averaging 6.5 assists per game and being one of the league leaders in charges drawn, proving to be an imposing threat all around.
Brunson is almost in the tier of the game’s greatest
At this point, there’s no doubt that he is one of the best point guards in the entire league. The real question lies in where he ranks among all NBA players, regardless of position.
So what is stopping him from being inserted into superstar conversations? Well, the fact that as of now he has yet to make an All-Star or All-NBA team (though likely to change this season) is part of the reason for the lack of attention, but team success is also likely to play a part.
The Knicks made it to the second round of the playoffs in 2023 for the first time in a decade largely behind the tremendous play from Brunson. Most of today’s superstar players have led their team to the conference finals at some point in their career, something that the Knicks still have not done since 1999, though Brunson was a key contributor to the Dallas Mavericks’ Western Conference Finals appearance in 2022.
The argument for the Mavericks’ run can be that Luka Doncic came back from injury before the second round to lead the team there with Brunson as the second option, but now that Brunson is the star of this Knicks team, this is his opportunity to lead the franchise to an appearance on the playoffs’ biggest stages.
Leading the Knicks to the conference finals would change the narrative around Brunson
Brunson’s talent level and on-court production individually are similar to what a superstar provides, but team success will be the next key factor in determining where he ranks among the league’s best players. If he is able to lead the franchise to where it strives to be, the conversation around the point guard will completely shift from All-Star caliber to All-NBA caliber.
Nevertheless, the Knicks seem to have themselves a franchise point guard for the years to come. He is already in the conversation for one of the best players in franchise history, and now he could be in the conversation for one of the best overall players in the game right now if he continues to do what he is doing.
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