Knicks: Jalen Brunson’s ankle injury could mean other players will have to step up

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Nov 27, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson suffered a sprained ankle in the Knicks’ 112-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, according to Tom Thibodeau.

Brunson finished the game with 18 points and 7-for-14 shooting before suffering the injury early in the fourth quarter. Immanuel Quickley took over the primary ball-handling duties the rest of the way and helped the Knicks hold onto their large lead and claim their fourth consecutive victory.

With the possibility that Brunson could miss at least a few games, other players on the Knicks, such as RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, will have to really step up their games to fill the void that would be left by Brunson.

Quickley may end up being elevated into the starting point guard role, with Miles McBride assuming the sixth-man role. Quickley had 12 points in 25 minutes off the bench on Sunday, while McBride contributed five points but solid defense in 21 minutes in the win.

Quickley was asked postgame on Sunday on whether or not he thinks he’ll get more starts if Brunson can not go for a while. However, he shifted the attention towards Brunson’s health, demonstrating that his priorities are set on his teammate’s well-being.

“My guy is hurt man, so I’m not really worried about who is starting and who is not.”

Immanuel Quickley on Jalen Brunson’s injury via SNY

Nevertheless, Quickley will likely become a starter for the foreseeable future. He has not started a game this season, but he has started six games in his three-year career.

In those six starts, the Kentucky product is averaging 18.5 PPG, 4 APG, 3.3 RPG and has shot 42.7% from the field and 35.4% from long range. All around, those are solid NBA starter-level numbers, so Quickley has proven that with additional volume, he can be an effective starter.

If he can provide this type of production should Brunson miss time, then that will be huge for the Knicks as they look to continue their stretch of good basketball.

An already thin rotation could get thinner for the Knicks

The Knicks are already missing Obi Toppin to a knee injury that will sideline him for a few weeks and possibly a month. With Cam Reddish, Derrick Rose, and Evan Fournier taken out of New York’s rotation, Brunson’s injury further dwindles their options.

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle will have to carry the load until Brunson is able to get back on the court.

The trio have formed a big three for the Knicks, with Brunson’s presence taking pressure off of Barrett and Randle. Barrett talked about the Knicks’ mindset following Brunson’s injury and what his will be moving forward with the possibility of not having both Brunson and Toppin for a while.

“We always say ‘next man up’ mentality. We just stay together, we work really hard”, Barrett said following the victory on Sunday. “[I am] just trying to do whatever I can for the team. [My] teammates make it really easy. We have guys out there giving it their all. It’s a great testament to the team and it’s a good team win.”

RJ Barrett via MSG Network’s Rebecca Harlow

Barrett and Randle both finished Sunday’s game with solid performances. Randle scored 27 points in the first half before being ejected late in the third quarter, and Barrett finished with 27 points as well as adding nine rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocks to his line score in the victory.

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