The Dallas Mavericks selected Jalen Brunson in the 2018 NBA draft with the No. 33 overall pick.
It's tough to match the season he put together, having won both National Player of the Year and the national championship with Villanova. From an NBA scouting perspective, it's suddenly become easier to look past his physical and athletic limitations toward his college success, skill level and intangibles.
Weight: 198.4 pounds
Pro-player comparison: Jameer Nelson/Andre Miller
One of the country's most efficient, productive players, Brunson ranked in the 98th percentile in points per possession. He also finished in the 98th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, mostly due to the fact that he made 47.4 percent of his dribble jumpers off the pick. Overall, he shot 40.8 percent from three, 46.0 percent on pull-ups and 48.0 percent on catch-and-shoots. Despite a lack of burst and bounce, he still finished in the 96th percentile out of isolation, and he showed an unusual knack for scoring out of the post (28-of-45), helping to fuel the Miller comparisons. A high-IQ passer, Brunson seemingly always made the right plays as a passer, even if he's not considered a dynamic playmaker. He averaged 4.6 assists to 1.8 turnovers.
Brunson didn't struggle in many areas. The questions concerning his transition game revolve around how much his limited speed will hold him back. Out of spot-ups, he only converted three of 17 drives while going right. He was less effective when opponents ran him off the line, as he made just 10-of-31 dribble jumpers after catching, using a dribble and then pulling up. Brunson was excellent at finishing around the basket in college (63.5 percent), but without any explosion, it's safer to predict that number will drop.
Brunson's defensive outlook is his biggest question mark. He's heavy-footed for a point guard. He ranked in the 18th percentile in isolation defense and 33rd percentile in chasing his man off screens. It's difficult to envision him containing many NBA starting speedsters. Brunson offers minimal defensive playmaking ability as well. Per 40 minutes, he averaged 1.2 steals, and he recorded only one block his entire 116-game career.
Brunson will have a chance to earn backup minutes right away thanks to his shooting and decision-making. He'll also turn 22 years old before the season, and he's had plenty of experience over the last three years with playing and winning at the highest NCAA level. He isn't capable of defending in a full-time role, but it wouldn't be surprising if he became a second-unit game manager as a rookie.
Projected role: High-end backup
The eye test suggests Brunson's ceiling isn't high, given his age and inability to blow by opponents or explode vertically. However, his knack for running an offense, shot-making, distributing and scoring skills with isolation pull-ups and post fall-aways, suggest he'll find a way to stick and make an impact. In all likelihood, he'll carve out a career as a valued backup who'll play mistake-free basketball and push all the right buttons, even if he's not putting up big numbers.