Now that the All-Star break is officially in the rearview mirror, the New York Knicks have shifted their focus to the season’s remaining 22 games. Sitting in sixth place in the East, the Knicks are in a good spot as they prepare to make a playoff push.
Although New York was clowned for “overpaying” Jalen Brunson in free agency, the point guard has consistently been great. He’s averaging a career-high 23.9 points (over seven points higher than last season’s average of 16.3) to go with a career-high 6.2 assists. With Brunson and Julius Randle both having career years, the Knicks duo had a case to both be All-Star reserves. However, that honor was given only to Randle.
Brunson wasn’t chosen as an injury replacement, either. Instead, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam made his way to Salt Lake. New York fans were campaigning for Brunson to possibly replace Jaylen Brown, who had sustained a facial fracture. Brown ended up playing in the All-Star Game, though, while Giannis Antetokounmpo played for 20 seconds after he suffered a wrist injury in Milwaukee’s win over Chicago last Thursday. At that point, Brunson had already begun his All-Star break.
Does Jalen Brunson care about being snubbed? Based on what he had to say, it doesn’t seem like it.
"“As for myself, I control what I can control, and [being named an All-Star is] something I can’t,” Brunson told reporters."
Will All-Star snub light fire under Jalen Brunson’s feet as Knicks finish regular season?
As CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin noted, Steph Curry was an All-Star snub back in 2012-13. Similar to Brunson, Curry insisted that he wasn’t bothered by it, but he finished the season on a tear.
After the 2022-23 All-Star reserves were announced, the first thing that Charles Barkley said was that he was shocked that Brunson’s name hadn’t been called. Barkley had a similar sentiment when Curry’s name wasn’t called as a 2012-13 reserve 10 years ago.
Curry went on to finish the 2012-13 season with a career-high average of 22.9 points and 6.9 assists while shooting 45.1% from the floor and 45.3% from three. He helped to lead Golden State to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. The Warriors advanced past the first round after defeating the Nuggets but came up short in the second round against the Spurs.
If Brunson were to not only lead the Knicks to the playoffs but past the first round, that’d be monumental in itself. Coincidentally, New York hasn’t made it to the second round of the playoffs since the 2012-13 season. Since then, the team has only had one playoff appearance.
Thanks to players like Brunson (and Randle), that could change in a couple of months. It will be tough for the Knicks to finish as a top-six team in the East, but it won’t be an impossible feat. New York is still in search of the next star player to trade for, but in the meantime, Brunson has proven that he’s worthy of being viewed as a star himself.
Let’s see what the overpaid point guard can do in these next 22 games (and beyond!).