Jalen Brunson being benched down the stretch in Team USA’s 99-91 exhibition win over Germany means New York Knicks fans should be worried, right? Well, if you go off what was said on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Sunday, that’s what you’d be led to believe.
We’re in the thick of August, the boring part of the NBA offseason. Luckily, basketball fans have enjoyed exhibition basketball leading up to the start of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, but there’s no reason to overreact to said exhibition games.
Brunson played in only 15 minutes and scored eight points, shooting 2-of-6 from the floor. He didn’t have it on either end of the floor, as he couldn’t contain new Raptors guard Dennis Schroder, who posted a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double for Germany.
In a game where Team USA was down by as many as 16 points in the second half and was at risk of losing their final exhibition contest, Brunson sat the final 16 minutes so Tyrese Haliburton could take over. There’s been much debate over who the United States’ starting point guard should be, and on Sunday, there’s no denying Haliburton was the better player.
However, to act as if Brunson isn’t one of the top point guards in the league for struggling in an exhibition game is embarrassing and exposes the people saying such things.
It’s okay that Knicks star Jalen Brunson wasn’t at his best in exhibition game
Remember around this time last year when Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Obi Toppin lost a Pro-Am game? Knicks haters had a field day with that one as they assumed New York was set for another disappointing season. Look at how that played out.
Playing for Team USA is different than taking the court for a Pro-Am game, but if you’re a Knicks fan, don’t spend time overanalyzing an exhibition showing. Brunson had a bad outing, and there’s nothing more to it. He played well in the United States’ previous four wins, and his leadership on and off the court has been praised by head coach Steve Kerr.
Kerr made the right move to replace Brunson with Haliburton, who had only one point at halftime but finished with 18. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted, Haliburton finished the game “because of his defensive and playmaking prowess.” Maybe Kerr will run with the same closing lineup in Team USA’s first World Cup contest in Manila on Saturday.
An easy bet to make would be for Brunson to come out against New Zealand looking like a different player. His consistency and ability to take over games last season helped guide New York to a top-five finish in the East and let’s not forget that he was the best player on the Knicks’ roster in the playoffs. He is that guy, regardless of what trolls are saying.