Jalen Brunson has been everything the New York Knicks could've asked for and then some. Of course, this being Knicks basketball, caveats of futility are attached.
The point guard has been far and away the team's most consistent option over the first quarter of the season, living up to the $104 million contract that lured him away from the Dallas Mavericks over the summer. Entering Tuesday's game in Detroit (7 p.m. ET, MSG), Brunson is the Knicks' leader in scoring (21.8), assist (6.7), and efficiency (21.91) averages.
The past three games have been particularly intriguing, with Brunson averaging 32 points and 7.3 assists. If he tallies at least 30 points on Tuesday, Brunson will become only the third Knicks in the last decade to do so in four consecutive contests, joining Carmelo Anthony and teammate Julius Randle.
But Brunson has fallen short in the most prominent situation of all: the final seconds. The latest defeats in what has become an ugly stretch for the Knicks ... consecutive losses at Madison Square Garden that have tossed the Knicks (9-11) out of the Eastern Conference's premature playoff picture ... were simultaneously lost yet kept close by Brunson's antics.
For example, managed to get past 30 points thanks to an overtime period in Friday's 132-129 loss to Portland. But that extra session could've been avoided had Brunson sank a short jumper in the final second of regulation. Two nights later, Brunson had a chance to both break and create late ties with Memphis, but the Knicks' final possessions ended with further misfires.
If anyone knows what Brunson is working through, it's former NBA franchise face, MVP, and payday-earner Derrick Rose. One of the immediate names behind Brunson on the Knicks' depth chart, Rose feels like one of the newest New Yorkers needs to get out of his own head as the season progresses.
"He was one of the players (who's) just thinking too much," Rose said in video obtained by SNY. "You can tell when he's overthinking on the floor and you can't play that way. In basketball, you've got some guys that can play that way but for a majority of the guys that play, it's a reaction type of sport. When you're out there overthinking, that's when things go bad."
It's not like Brunson has been a choke artist during his brief time in New York: entering Tuesday action, Brunson ranked eighth in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring (117).
Rose, 34, offered some basic but vital advice for Brunson as the team prepares for a four-game homestand that starts after the Detroit trip. Upon their return, the Knicks will look to end a three-game losing streak at MSG, where they haven't won since Nov. 11.
"Just play, no matter if you mess up," Rose declared. "He missed the last shot (on Sunday). Who cares? You're going to have many shots like that. How many shots did he hit to tie the game?"
In that loss to the Grizzlies, Brunson had 17 points in the final period, allowing the Knicks to erase a Memphis lead that reached as high as 12. Of that tally, 11 came over the final five minutes, including a pair of free throws that allowed the Knicks to take a brief lead in the final minute before Ja Morant took over.
"When you're a young player and you're put in this position and you're put in this situation for the first time, it can be like a quagmire type of situation," Rose, signer of a five-year, $94 million deal with Chicago at the age of 23, said. "But the more you play, the more you build your confidence, you should be good."
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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