Jalen Brunson is preparing to make his World Cup debut on Saturday in Team USA’s first group play game. The New York Knicks point guard has been dubbed by Steve Kerr as a “natural leader” and received the third-highest media prediction votes to take home the FIBA MVP award.
This past season, Brunson did something that many other players have shied away from, turning the Knicks organization around. In the most brutal media market in the league, his quiet demeanor and on-court tenacity allowed him to shine. As Brunson prepares for his second year in New York, he’ll first have the opportunity to avenge Team USA’s 2019 seventh-place finish.
Brunson is on a United States roster that features young stars Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards and Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr., but to the point guard, the big names don’t matter. Team USA has one goal, and it’s to win it all.
"“We have a lot of guys who come from different situations and play different styles of basketball but here, ego is left on the door and we just wanna win and that’s the most important thing on our mind,” said the New York Knicks star on Thursday during the pre-event press conference."
Knicks’ Jalen Brunson has the right mindset for 2023 FIBA World Cup
Jalen Brunson was clowned for being benched down the stretch in Team USA’s final exhibition win over Germany on Sunday. Steve Kerr had Tyrese Haliburton in over Brunson, which was the correct decision as the Knicks guard struggled on both ends of the court.
Brunson isn’t the type of player to hang his head over decisions that don’t go in his favor, which is why he’s heralded as a true team player.
"“I think for the most part guys are smart. We all have one common goal which is to win and so when it comes to roles, we have figured a way to kind of understand what the team needs in any given time,” said Brunson."
It can be challenging for top NBA talent to come together on one team and leave their egos at the door, but that’s what Brunson and Team USA have done. Brunson’s Villanova ties with Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges have helped to forge chemistry within the group that’ll spend six weeks together during the offseason before going their separate ways to prepare for the 2023-24 season.
Just because the United States is favored to win the World Cup doesn’t mean the team can cruise past group play, and Jalen Brunson understands that.