On Thursday, the NBA revealed the three finalists for all of its regular season awards, including MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year.
As our very own Bri Amaranthus wrote earlier today, Luka Doncic may have been snubbed from being an MVP finalist, but in this piece, we take a look at another Maverick who should have gotten more recognition from award voters — Jalen Brunson.
The three finalists for Sixth Man of the Year ended up being Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles and Derrick Rose, with worthy Dallas Maverick candidate Brunson being snubbed. You could technically throw Tim Hardaway Jr.’s name in there as well, but he started in 31 games this season, where Brunson only started in 12 games.
Brunson finished his third NBA season averaging 12.6 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 52.3% from the field and 40.5% from three. Brunson also had a 58.8 effective field goal percentage. He was an important part of the Mavs being able to fight their way back from being 14th in the West in January to being 5th by the season’s end.
There were only five players this NBA season who averaged at least 12 points, three rebounds and three assists per game while shooting at least 50% from the field and 40% from deep: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Zach LaVine, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Brunson.
Even though he likely wouldn’t win Sixth Man of the Year, Brunson’s impressive season should’ve been enough to make him a finalist over Rose. Both players share nearly identical averages when it comes to points, rebounds and assists, but Brunson’s shooting efficiency is what should have separated him from Rose. Rose playing for the ever-popular and playoff-bound New York Knicks probably helped sway voters to put him in as a finalist.
Make no mistake, Rose has had a fine season for the Knicks this year, but we just believe the numbers indicate that Brunson had a better one.
It will be interesting to see where Brunson ended up in the voting order when those results are released after the season. For now, though, we’ll see if Brunson can carry over his regular-season numbers to his first ever NBA Playoffs appearance against the Clippers in Saturday's Game 1 and beyond.