Jalen Brunson vs. Mavericks: What’s changed since he left Dallas for Knicks?

Jalen Brunson, the New York Knicks’ new $100 million man, will take on his former team on Saturday for the first time since leaving Dallas for New York. The true return comes later in the month when the Knicks head to Texas to play the Mavericks, but Saturday’s match is the appetizer.

It’ll be Brunson’s first taste of what it will be like to go against a group he helped to the Western Conference finals in May.

Mavericks beat writer Tim Cato and Knicks beat writer Fred Katz will be on the scene. They chatted about Brunson’s fast start in New York, what he left behind in Dallas and how the Mavericks are still trying to replace him.

Tim Cato: Fred, this conversation we’re about to have feels familiar. Just a few years ago, it was Kristaps Porziņģis switching between these two teams that warranted a conversation about the ramifications for both sides. Now, it’s Brunson who’s made that switch in reverse.

I’ve described the Mavericks as having a “Brunson-sized hole” several times this season, but let’s hold off on that for now. This conversation is about Brunson himself, first and foremost. How’s he been for the Knicks since the season began?

Fred Katz: Tim, I always appreciate a writer who has the stones to quote himself to begin a story.

Cato: Sometimes, you just can’t say it better than you’ve already said it.

Katz: This is not the same Brunson that was in Dallas — or so it would appear.

Brunson has never shouldered this much of his team’s offense from the start of a season. He’s never shot this much. In New York, the show is his. That wasn’t the case as recently as seven months ago.

It wasn’t a guarantee when Brunson first signed with the Knicks this past summer. New York’s roster did not seem like the most conducive to a guard who plays like a 1990s big man. Brunson needs space to get off his moves on the low block, and the Knicks lack shooting, especially in the first unit. Yet, Brunson hasn’t just made it work, he’s thrived under these conditions and could be in the All-Star conversation whenever that gets going, something that was never the case earlier in his career.

Those who looked closely may have predicted something like this was coming. Brunson blew up during the Mavericks’ playoff run last spring, especially when the team was without its MVP candidate, Luka Dončić. For a couple of seasons, Brunson scored in bunches running the Mavericks’ offense while Dončić sat on the bench.

But there is a difference between taking the reins in sparse moments and grabbing them from the beginning of training camp and never letting go. All his funky floaters and wannabe-center post moves have carried him to 21.3 points per game on impressive efficiency.

Tim, you saw all those moments when he controlled the offense without Dončić. You were there when he dropped 41 on the Utah Jazz in a sans-Dončić playoff victory and then went for 31 the next game. But those buckets also came inside an offense…

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Read More: Jalen Brunson vs. Mavericks: What’s changed since he left Dallas for Knicks? 2022-12-02 21:14:34

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