Knicks Rumors: 'Boost' to All-Star Chances Among Reasons Jalen Brunson Signed with NY

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2022

Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson reacts during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Friday, May 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn

A better chance to earn an All-Star Game roster spot was reportedly among the "motivations" for Jalen Brunson to leave the Dallas Mavericks for the New York Knicks in free agency.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported Wednesday the Knicks' pursuit of Brunson, who signed a four-year, $104 million contract, was bolstered by the "presumed boost" switching conferences would provide as he tries to earn his first All-Star appearance.

Brunson enjoyed a decorated collegiate career at Villanova, highlighted by winning a pair of national titles and the 2018 Wooden Award as college basketball's top men's player, but he's yet to achieve that type of high-end success in the NBA.

In terms of individual numbers, his statistical upside has been capped by playing either alongside or behind Luka Doncic, who led the league in usage rate in 2021-22.

Brunson has still made steady improvement across four years in the NBA. He averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 threes this past season. He shot 50.2 percent from the field, including 37.3 percent on threes.

It was enough to attract a lucrative long-term investment from the Knicks, and his offensive involvement should increase substantially as the team's primary ball-handler. That should lead to a sizable uptick in his stats in 2022-23 to perhaps emerge as an All-Star contender.

Moving from the West to the East should indeed help in that quest, at least on paper. Here's a look at the guards who were chosen from each conference for the 2022 All-Star Game, some of whom were replaced because of injury:

  • East: Trae Young, DeMar DeRozan, LaMelo Ball, Darius Garland, James Harden, Zach LaVine and Fred VanVleet
  • West: Doncic, Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul and Dejounte Murray (traded to the East this offseason)

The level of competition for the spots is high in both conferences in the current guard-and-wing dominated era, but the East seemingly does provide slightly lesser resistance, especially since Brunson will have the New York market behind him if he's playing well.

It's unlikely the All-Star situation was the make-or-break part of his free-agent foray, but it is undoubtedly one of the factors that comes into play when players are judged at the end of their careers.

Of course, winning a championship with the Knicks would make Brunson a legend in New York, even if he never makes an All-Star team.