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Knicks Preseason Profile: Jalen Brunson's Leadership Key to Playoff Run

Things will be a little different for Jalen Brunson this season, as he goes from a Dallas Mavericks squad that made the Western Conference Finals to a New York Knicks squad that didn't even make the Play-In tournament. Regardless, Brunson should be up for the challenge.

The New York Knicks might be disappointed that they weren't able to land Donovan Mitchell in a blockbuster trade over the summer, but adding Jalen Brunson in free agency is still a big-time move that shouldn't be overlooked with the season on the horizon.

After not even making the Play-In tournament last season, the Knicks are hoping for a big bounce-back year. Their playoff hopes could rest firmly on the shoulders of Brunson, who will be the full-time lead point guard for the first time in his NBA career. We take a look back at what Brunson was able to accomplish last year with the Dallas Mavericks and look ahead to what we can expect from him in his first year with the Knicks ...

2021-22 Season Review

Brunson's regular season for the Mavs was strong as it was, as he averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists through 79 games, including 61 starts. He shot 50.2 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from 3-point range. Although Brunson had already made himself a lot of money by the season's end, it was the postseason where he was able to secure his new $100 million deal.

Brunson averaged 21.6 points in the Mavs' playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. In the first three games of the postseason against the Utah Jazz in the first round – where the Knicks got in some hot water by sitting courtside to watch both Brunson and Mitchell – the Mavs were missing Superstar Luka Doncic to a calf strain. Brunson filled in by averaging 32 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 steals while shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from deep, resulting in a 2-1 series lead for Dallas by the time Doncic returned.

2022-23 Season Preview

Although Brunson played really well for the Mavs in Doncic's playoff absence, he still had better role players around him that made his life a little easier. This isn't to say that his new Knicks cast isn't talented, but it just might not fit as well as being surrounded by 3-and-D guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and former Knicks wing Reggie Bullock.

Given that Mitchell is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brunson will truly be able to run his own team now. That will potentially result in him potentially putting up eye-popping numbers ... but the Knicks might not be as successful as the Mavs were last season due to spacing issues between Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle. If the Knicks can make it to the playoffs, though, we know what Brunson is capable of doing on the biggest stages.

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