Jalen Brunson is going to feel what true pressure is like during his first season with the New York Knicks, but the veteran point guard doesn't believe playing in the Big Apple will get to him.
"For one, it's not really pressure to me," Brunson told reporters Thursday. "I'm just going out there and playing basketball the way I've played for a long time. And two, I'm just going to be myself. I'm ready to go. Whatever it takes."
During an appearance on The Old Man and The Three podcast in July, Brunson said that he recognized the added pressure of playing in New York:
"I mean definitely [I've started to prepare myself]. I mean it wouldn't be smart not to. I'm definitely thinking about how everything's going to be; best-case scenarios, worst-case scenarios. But I think no matter what's going on, I just gotta own it.
"If I play bad, I gotta own it. I gotta be better. If I play well, it's because of my teammates who made it easier for me. I just gotta be a person who's authentic and owns everything that he does. That's, I think, the first step to being a guy who can connect with the fans."
Brunson signed a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Dallas Mavericks, who selected him in the second round of the 2018 NBA draft.
Playing in New York is pressure alone, but Brunson will also be shouldering the load of trying to effectively fill a Knicks' point guard position that hasn't seen a true leader in a long time.
The Knicks have cycled through a number of players at point guard over the last several years, including Elfrid Payton, Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina. None were able to fill the role effectively enough to hold onto the position for the long haul.
New York is optimistic about the potential of Brunson, hence why it signed him to such a large deal.
The 26-year-old had a breakout 2021-22 season, averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 79 games while also shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from deep.
He was just as effective in the playoffs, averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 18 games while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 34.7 percent from deep.
However, Brunson never shouldered much of the load in Dallas, playing alongside superstar Luka Dončić. So, there are some questions about whether he will be able to sustain that success in a larger role.
If Brunson is unable to shoulder that load, the Knicks will be back to the drawing board at the position.
But, if Brunson does find success, the Knicks should make the Eastern Conference playoffs with a roster that also includes RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Evan Fournier.