While the Boston Celtics have not officially ruled out Jaylen Brown, whose absence could extend past the All-Star break with a facial fracture, New York Knicks‘ rising point guard Jalen Brunson continues to make a strong case as his potential replacement.
Brunson had his third 40-point game this season, twice over his last six games, that signaled a power shift in New York as the Knicks snapped a nine-game losing streak against the now star-less Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks starting point guard dropped 19 in the first half and 21 in the second half, including 17 in the third quarter, where they seized control of the game.
“It’s who he is,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said of Brunson. ” He is going to give the game whatever it needs. If we need more scoring, he’ll be creating havoc in the paint. I think [when the] double team, he got off the ball quick. We got good offense from that as well. He gives the team a lot of confidence.”
Brunson was again efficient, hitting 15 of 21 shots overall and 6 of 9 from downtown. He added five assists without a single turnover in 35 minutes.
Since the All-Star rosters were announced, Brunson has been averaging 31.9 points on a ridiculous 55.7 percent shooting and 46.9 percent from the three-point zone, with 6.1 assists against only 1.2 turnovers and 3.7 rebounds.
“I’ve said this before, it’s pretty obvious [he’s an All-Star]. I think because all of us,” said Thibodeau referring to New York media, “because we see him every night, and the unfortunate part of the All-Star thing is that there are not enough spots. So, inevitably, someone deserving gets left off, but in my eyes, he is an All-Star.”
Brunson is everything the Knicks would hope for.
Docked a second-round pick for tampering violations, acquiring Brunson was worth all the trouble. He’s playing above his $104 million price tag, averaging a career-high 23.9 points and 6.2 assists this season.
He’s the biggest reason the Knicks are just six games away from surpassing their 37-win total last season.
“He should be an All-Star,” said Josh Hart, who played with Brunson at Villanova, and now with the Knicks. “It’s amazing to see because I know the work he puts in. More importantly, he’s a great person. He’s a heck of a kid, respectful, and a leader. He’s everything you want in someone you build a franchise around.”
The Knicks finally have a leader.
Brunson has stabilized a franchise that had experienced more turmoils than winning seasons over the last two decades.
“If I was ever invited, that’s an honor,” said Brunson, who wishes for Brown’s good health and noted that everyone selected was deserving. “Like I said the past couple of weeks, I control what I control.”
Brunson is undoubtedly doing everything in his power, putting up All-Star numbers that have a big impact on winning.
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