After Jalen Brunson’s wildly successful first season with the Knicks, expectations were high coming into the 2023-24 NBA season.
Many felt Brunson was an All-Star snub and that his strong play deserved a spot.
The Knick's point guard didn’t let the snub bother him; he used it to make everyone look foolish.
In the 12 games after the All-Star break, JB averaged 24.3 points and 6.2 assists. He led New York to a 9-3 record during that stretch, which helped them finish 47-35, fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Brunson then had an eclectic postseason, averaging 27.8 points, 5.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals while playing 40.3 minutes per game in 11 games. He led the Knicks to Game 6 of the second round.
Jalen Brunson is off to a bit of a slow start (to his new standards) to start the season.
The former Villanova Wildcat is averaging 22.5 points and 4.8 assists, with a 47.1 effective field goal percentage. Last season, he averaged 24.0 points, 6.2 assists, and had a 54.7 effective field goal percentage.
This is not to talk badly about Brunson (he’s amazing); it’s just merely pointing out some early dropoffs.
Around the basket:
What makes Brunson so hard to defend is his shiftiness and ability to score inside the arc. Last season, he averaged 10.1 points in the paint. This season, he is averaging 7.3.
I’ll run through some noticeable distances to talk about.
On shots less than 5 feet:
As you can see, percentages are down in a lot of areas.
Brunson loves to go to his floater, which was so effective last season. He hit 52.2 percent of his driving floating jump shots and 60 percent of his driving floating bank jump shots. As a smaller guard, he’s brilliantly perfected his craft to score over bigger defenders close to the basket.
Check out this video from the 2022-23 season that shows Brunsons’ creativity and craftiness in pursuit of scoring:
This season, he is only shooting 38.5 percent (10/26) on those driving floating shots. His step-back jump is only falling at a 33.3 rate, compared to 46.3 last season. Turnaround jump shots haven’t been too kind to Jalen either; he’s 0/7 early in the season. Last season, he only attempted it 23 times but hit 13/23 (56.5%).
It’s just been a slow start for Brunson and the Knicks offensively.
His shooting from deep looks good percentage-wise, but it can be deceiving. Brunson has not shot the ball well from three besides for two games this season. Against the Atlanta Hawks in the second game of the season, he made a career-high eight three-pointers. In the recent win over the San Antonio Spurs, JB knocked down 5/8 triples. Just combining those two games would make him 13/20 (65%) from beyond the arc. That’d be great, if we didn’t have six other games to look at.
In the other six games, he’s combined to shoot 8/29 (27.6%) from three. It’d be nice to see a little more consistency from the capable shooter we know Brunson is.
I’m not overly worried about his percentages being down to start the season. I did think it was worth pointing out, though. He is still leading the Knicks in scoring and averaging nearly five assists per game. He’s also second on the team in plus/minus, only behind RJ Barrett. Brunson will find a way to get back to his consistent play.
Here’s to more big performances from #11 this season: