How 2023 became a year to remember for Knicks star PG Jalen Brunson

When the Knicks signed Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks on a four-year, $104 million contract, there was concern that they might’ve overpaid for the former Villanova guard.

At the time, the Knicks knew they had their starting point guard of the immediate future, but the 26-year-old has quickly proven to be so much more. He’s the team’s star and a true cornerstone the club can build around.

New York won its first playoff series in 10 years, and though it is still in a state of transformation — as evidenced by Saturday’s trade to acquire OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors — the franchise seems to be headed in the right direction as we approach 2024.

Brunson has become New York’s top offensive weapon since joining the Knicks, and alongside Julius Randle he led the team to a playoff berth after winning 47 games last season, 28 of which came in 2023.

The playoffs were certainly a moment to remember for Brunson and the Knicks. The diminutive point guard led New York to a 4-1 series win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the postseason action, Brunson proved he was the real deal as a lead option, averaging 27.8 points on 47.4 percent shooting across 11 games. 

Though the team lost in six games to the Heat in the second round, Brunson tore up Miami’s elite defense for 31.0 points and 6.3 assists despite facing larger defenders, constant double teams, and ball pressure. Facing elimination in the last two games, Brunson responded to the pressure with 38- and 41-point performances.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after scoring against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Footprint Center

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after scoring against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Footprint Center / Rick Scuteri – USA TODAY Sports

Progress in 2023

He might not be the traditional “1A player” that is constantly bandied about in the NBA rumor mill, but there are only a handful of those players that exist. Brunson is part of a small group of stars that a team can feel confident in consistently producing in high-leverage moments regularly.

Brunson could’ve rested on his laurels heading into the 2023-24 season, however, after his strong playoff run he has only improved.

The star point guard is pouring in a career-high 25.9 points a night and he already has 50 point game this season while also reaching the 40 point mark on two other occasions.

Brunson’s done so by expanding his range this season, launching from deep and making himself more of a threat from everywhere on the floor. He’s attempting a career-high 6.3 threes per game, but still shooting a career-high 44.6 percent from beyond the arc.

He has a good shot at making his first All-Star team this season and could also potentially earn a berth on an All-NBA team depending on New York’s record at the end of the year.

Listed a 6-foot-2 with a 6-foot, 4-inch wingspan, Brunson certainly has his limitations, but he’s been able to overcome those obstacles to put together one of the finer calendar years of any Knick in recent memory.

After the strong year Brunson has experienced, it’s not outlandish to say that he can continue to improve and grow in 2024, and based on what he’s shown in his nearly year and a half with the Knicks it looks like a safe bet.