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P&T Player of the Week for Dec. 10-16: Jalen Brunson

A career-night in Arizona plus consistent leadership makes him a shoo-in for top honors.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Last week was a grind for the New York Knicks. Over that short span, our heroes played one home page (Toronto Raptors) and three on the road (Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers). New York split the week with a 2-2 record. Noted in the surprise column: they lost to the slipping Jazz, but won to the offensively-juggernautish Suns. As for the other games, Toronto is a middling team and the Clippers are chewing up the league of late, so neither of those outcomes came as a shock.

During that span, New York’s starting point guard Jalen Brunson averaged 29 points, 5.5 boards, and two steals, while shooting 52% from the field, 56%(!) from deep, and 76% from the foul line. His assist to turnover ratio was 8.0:3.5, and averaged 2.75 personal fouls per game.

Obviously, those stats are weighted by a career-night out west.

First, before leaving the East coast, he scored 21 points and 9 assists versus the Raptors at Madison Square Garden. He made seven of his 12 shots, and three of his five attempts from deep.

The game in Utah was an anomaly for Jalen, in which he shot poorly and missed all six three-pointers. But even on a poor-shooting night, he found his way to 23 points, added 7 rebounds, 8 assists, grabbed two steals, and committed only three turnovers. New York had played a terrible second quarter, but Jalen almost brought them to victory down the stretch, falling just four point short.

Then against Phoenix, Brunson refused to lose. The Knicks stunk in the second quarter, and Phoenix seemed destined to win, but they were outdone by New York’s 76-point scoring rampage in the second half, led mostly by Jalen. In a masterpiece, he set career-highs for points (50) and three-pointers (9-of-9) in a game, and tied his high of five steals in a game. He took 23 shots in the game, missed only six. Talk about a hot hand.

Finally, against the Clippers, Jalen dropped 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists against. The Knicks played well early in that one but ultimately surrendered 77 first-half points, from which they never recovered.

Strong consideration was given to Isaiah Hartenstein, who has filled in admirably in the absence of Mitchell Robinson (foot surgery), but surely his Monday night performance rockets him to the lead for next week’s honors. As for Jalen, his exceptional performance and consistent leadership of this team could not be denice, earning him the well-deserved title of P&T Player of the Week once again.