The most benign transformation for the Mavericks was without question the emergence of Jalen Brunson.
His quick ascension from second-round draft pick to back up point guard has been understated, to say the least. His immediate impact on the season was eye-opening and a welcomed site for the Mavericks. With some crucial mid-season additions, they find themselves closer than ever to serious playoff contention. The Villanova Alum has the potential to play a key role in how the Maverick’s future unfolds.
Teams around the NBA are in constant search of solid guard play. In a short period of time, Brunson proved to fit this build, unlike any other Maverick. In his first season, Brunson averaged 9.3 points and 3.1 assists per contest (4th among rookies), shooting 47 % from the field (2nd among rookie guards) and 35 % from three. He’s been in the starting lineup 38 times, upping his scoring mark to 13.0 points while adding 4.3 assist and 3.0 rebounds in those games.
The former Naismith College Player of the Year has literally worked himself into a potential starting role next season. However, even without starter status, his hard-nosed play is sure to be an essential part of the rotation.
As last season progressed the two time NCAA champion showed steady improvement. Jalen has been a part of the Mavericks second most used lineup proving he can be trusted by veteran coach Rick Carlisle. There’s no denying Brunson’s winning track. In March this trust was on full display as JB scored a career-high 34 points versus the rival Spurs. This game he shot 75% from the field and 50% from three-point range.
Although he missed out on offseason accolades Jalen received 14 votes for All Rookie team. Only Mitchell Robinson of the New York Knicks received more votes as a second round pick. These votes indicate the league wide respect for the reserve pg. Brunson is signed through the 2021-22 season even though that season isn’t guaranteed. These factors coupled with the guard centric environment of the NBA should signal his future performances are essentially billboards for his next contract.
De Ja Vu
A players NBA journey is rarely Dirk like. Its typically a unpredictable winding road destined to end as abruptly as it began. Although drafted fifth overall, Devin Harris’ career path may look eerily familiar to Jalen in the coming years. Harris has played almost as many years with the Mavericks (10) as he has without (8).
Remember after being drafted/ traded in 2004 Harris played well enough to be named a co-captain with Dirk in 2008. That same season he was a key cog in the Jason Kidd trade. We all know what that veteran presence meant to the clubs title run in 2011. Harris would later join two other squads (Jazz 11′ & Hawks 12′) before reuniting with the Mavericks (2013-2018) only to leave for Denver and come back for a third stint all in 2018.
An 18 year NBA career can only be described as successful. If Brunson continues his upward trend he has the ability to mirror Devin’s journey. The services of a role player are largely underappreciated by fans and front offices alike. However the Mavericks must be intrigued by a possible de ja vu like scenario including Jalen. That situation would be ideal and if executed properly could catapult the Mavericks into new found territory.
In most cases the adulation afforded to non Superstars is few and far between. However, their cardinal importance to a teams success cant be denied. In just one season its possible JB’s production could be a precursor to future prosperity. Developing and nurturing him into a team leader and potential co-captain could be a role fitting his basketball DNA. Also on the table is flipping the second round pick into a key cog similar to J. Kidd in 2008.
These could be subsequent moves for the Mavericks as they look to make considerable improvements to the roster moving forward.
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