The New York Knicks made the big move before the 2022-23 season to sign former Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson was coming off a decent regular season in 2021-22 that saw him average 16.3 points, four rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game.
The 2022 playoffs is when the scrappy Villanova guard started to turn heads. He would average 27.8 points per game in the first-round series win over the Utah Jazz. Most notably and the game that you could say changed the course of Brunson's professional career was when he put up 41 points in Game Two to even the series. Dallas would take a 2-1 lead in the series before Luka Doncic returned for Games 4-6. Brunson was serviceable but cooled off in the next playoff series against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. That Utah series really showed Brunson’s potential.
Going into his Knicks tenure, a point of concern was how he would handle the primary point guard duties. According to basketball reference, Brunson played shooting guard 57% of the time in the 2021-22 regular season. He did well in his career when playing without Luka, averaging around 20 points and six assists. Despite some suitable sample sizes, this was going to be a new situation with new expectations for Jalen.
2022-23 shooting stats:
After a season of new data, it’s clear, Jalen Brunson thrived with more opportunities. He saw his field goal attempts go from 12.8 to 17.6, three-point attempts from 3.2 to 4.7, and free-throw attempts increase to 5.8 from 2.7. There was a slight drop in field goal percentage as he went from shooting 50.2% in 2021-22 to 49.1% last season. To only drop 1.1 percent while increasing shooting load by almost five per game, I found to be a good sign.
Something that did go up was his true shooting percentage. He was able to raise his TS% to 59.7 percent, up from 58.3 percent in 2021-22.
A lot of players see their percentages drop lower in that first season in a new role, but Brunson managed it and actually raised his overall shooting numbers. His three-point shooting took a big positive turn, increasing to 41.6% from 37.3%. To get more visualization of the numbers, in 2021-22, he hit 94/252 three-point attempts. In 2022-23, Brunson hit 134-322 three-point attempts. He was able to set a career-high for threes by 40 despite playing 11 fewer games and 145 fewer minutes.
His increase in free throw attempts can’t be understated. Watching Brunson learn how to ‘game’ the game might’ve been his biggest improvement this season. He went from hitting 179/213 free throws in 2021-22 to hitting 325-392 in 2022-23. His 82.9 FT% is something that should improve but the fact that he’s getting to the line is key. In the regular season, Brunson had at least 19 games of 8 or more free throw attempts and had seven games of double-digit free throw attempts.
In the 2023 playoffs, JB hit 62-68 (91.2%) of his foul shots.
Naturally, Jalen Brunson saw some advanced metrics increase in the regular season.
PER: 17.1 —> 21.2 (+4.1)
Assist percentage: 24.3 —> 28.7 (+4.4)
Usage rate: 21.9 —> 27.2 (+5.3)
Turnover rate percentage: 10.1 —> 9.4 (+0.7)- turnover rate went down despite handling the ball a lot more.
Offensive win shares: 4.9 —> 6.9 (+2.0)
Win shares: 7.5 —> 8.7 (+1.2)
Offensive box plus-minus: 0.9 —> 4.4 (+3.5)
Box plus-minus: 0.9 —> 3.9 (+3.0)
Value over replacement player: 1.9 —> 3.5 (+1.6)
In the playoffs, he was still positive in every category and even improved his defensive box plus-minus from -0.5 to 1.6. He also was a +37 in the playoffs.
You can check out all his stats from the regular season and playoffs at basketball reference.
There’s a lot more to get into with Jalen Brunson in terms of shooting tendencies, tracking, and areas he excels at or can improve in. We have a whole offseason ahead so that’s for another time. What I wanted to accomplish here was to point out his big jump from 2021-22 to 2022-23 and show his effectiveness. Who knows where this Knicks team would be without Jalen Brunson...It’s something I hope I don’t have to find out anytime soon.
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