Mavs star Luka Doncic reflects on when he first knew Knicks’ Jalen Brunson would be this good

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after making a three point basket during the second half against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks MVP candidate Luka Doncic and New York Knicks All-Star Jalen Brunson may no longer be teammates, but that hasn’t stopped the Slovenian superstar from giving Brunson his flowers.

Brunson’s rise from fringe All-Star to All-NBA candidate this season has garnered a heap of attention. Media praise and criticism have followed him throughout the year, and love from the league’s coaches gave him his first All-Star nod.

But while Brunson’s new status as a franchise player may come as a surprise to some, Doncic remembers the time when it clicked for him that Brunson would be just the player that he is today.

Knicks: Jalen Brunson’s 41-point masterpiece against the Utah Jazz in the 2022 NBA playoffs impressed then-Mavs teammate Luka Doncic

Doncic went on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three podcast” and reflected on one playoff performance from Brunson that convinced him of the latter’s potential for greatness, via New York Basketball on X:

“…That playoff run (2022)…Utah…2d game…he had 45…needed a win no matter what…I was on the bench watching ‘whoa’ …[&] the way he worked…” Doncic raved.

The 2022 NBA playoffs as a whole marked Brunson’s coming out party, but he got the ball rolling in that first-round series against the Utah Jazz. Not only did he deliver 41 points, on 15-25 shooting from the floor, but he also scored and assisted on 16 of Dallas’ final 27 points in their last nine minutes of play down the stretch. He was money in the driving lanes and could not miss when going to his floater.

Brunson’s big game lasted throughout those playoffs and helped him become the All-Star he is now

Brunson was integral in the Mavericks reaching the Western Conference Finals that year and burned the Phoenix Suns a round prior throughout that series as well. He showed growth in being able to get to his spots in the midrange and connect on timely buckets that stopped runs and gave the Mavs momentum late in games.

Brunson would only take that foundation and build upon it once joining the Knicks and what we see now is a product of his growth. Doncic knew all this would happen long ago and his eyes as well as his foresight have proven to be true.

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