Film Studies: Jalen Brunson Brings Offbeat Success to New York

Last season, Jalen Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game with Dallas.

Its been a long time.

The last time the New York Knicks had a league-average-or-better offense was 2013–14, when their starting point guard was Raymond Felton. They haven’t really been close since then, amassing at least 1.1 points per 100 possessions below the league average over the past eight seasons. And the Knicks are one of two teams—the Orlando Magic (10 straight years) being the other—that are ranked in the bottom 10. aggressive efficiency in each of the last four years.

A year earlier, the Knicks attempted to upgrade their offense by adding two guards – Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker – to free agency. It didn’t work, and seeing a huge drop on the defense, the team actually took a step back on the offensive. Later finished fourth In the east in 2020-21, the Knicks finished six games Out of play-in tournament chase.

This year, the Knicks are trying again. Fournier is still around, but Walker has been replaced by 26-year-old Jalen Brunson, one of the most accomplished pick-and-roll scorers in the league.

Here are some notes, numbers, and film that Brunson brings to the Big Apple…

1. Efficiency inside the arc

In the past two seasons, Brunson has scored 1.07 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. The mark ranks third among 113 players with at least 250 ball-handler assets over the past two seasons, according to Synergy Play-Type Tracking.

Most points per possession, pick-and-roll ball-handler assets, last 2 seasons

player GP hegemony. post/g score ppp FGM FGA F G%
Kawhi Leonard 52 295 5.7 327 1.11 119 230 51.7%
Stephen Curry 127 898 7.1 966 1.08 317 696 45.5%
Jalen Brunson 147 650 4.4 696 1.07 294 542 54.2%
Damien Lillard 96 1,095 11.4 1,138 1.04 370 860 43.0%
Kevin Durant 90 375 4.2 388 1.03 132 272 48.5%

Minimum 250 assets (113 players)
via synergy tracking

The other players in that top five are top-tier superstars. Brunson is right there between them and there is really room for improvement.

Note that Brunson’s field goal percentage on the pick-and-roll ball-handler property is higher (by a fairly healthy margin) than the other four players in the top five. This is the highest of all 113 players with at least 250 ball-handler assets in the past two years. While the other four players in that top five had high free throw rates and 3-point rates, Brunson’s off-the-dribble success came mostly with 2-point shots.

Of his 412 pull-up jumps last season, 332 (81%) were two-point attempts. It was the 25th highest rate among 171 players who attempted at least 100 pull-ups. His 48.5% on pull-up 2-pointers was well above the league average (41.2%) and 14th place With at least 100 attempts out of 114.

Chris Paul is the king of short pull-ups. In each of the last three seasons, he has been single player At least 400 pull-ups to shoot 52% or better on 2-point attempts. And Brunson can sometimes look like a lefty CP3, hauling around a pick to get to a place where he can get his shot…

Jalen Brunson Short Jumper vs New York

But (at this point in his career) Brunson is better at reaching the basket than Paul…

Jalen Brunson beats Chris Paul

And if he stops before he gets there he gets the trick…

Jalen Brunson Up-and-Under vs. Drummond Green

If Brunson can draw a few more fouls and convert some of those 2 into 3-pointers, he could be even more efficient. But Brunson’s 31.3% on pull-up 3 was below the league average (32.8%) and only 71st place Out of 105 players with at least 75 attempts. In the playoffs, he was just 9-for-32 (28%) on pull-up 3s, 20th Out of 29 players with at least 20 attempts.

He doesn’t seem uncomfortable shooting pull-ups 3s…

Jalen Brunson Pull-Up 3-Point Effort

But the result has not come yet.

Even with some improvement beyond the arc, Brunson must prove he can stay proficient with a high amount of dribble. Playing alongside Luka Doncic, he averaged only 4.4 ball-handler assets per game over the past two seasons. His 5.0 ball-handler assets per game last season only 42nd place Out of players who have played at least 35 games.

Brunson averaged 32 more points when Doncic was dismissed first three games In the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz. And in doing so, he scored 41 points on 30 pick-and-roll ball-handler assets (1.37 per), according to Synergy.

We’ll see if it gets that much use in New York. Overall, Brunson was less efficient when he was on the floor without Doncic (correct shooting percentage of 56.4%, counting regular season And playoffs) compared to when they were on the floor together (59.2%).

If Brunson takes some ball-handler assets away from RJ Barrett, it will probably be good for the Knicks overall. Barrett should improve, but his possession of 0.77 points per ball-handler over the past two seasons ranks him 105th out of 113 players who have at least 250 possessions (just below former Nick Alfrid Peyton). And he actually averages more ball-handler assets per game (5.5) than Brunson (4.4).

2. A Safe Distributor

Over the past three seasons, Brunson has averaged 5.5 assists per 36 minutes, ranking 59th out of 337 players who have played at least 2,000 minutes in those three years. He is not threading many needles or making many highlight reels with his pass. And his lack of size (he’s 6-foot-1) can be a hindrance with respect to getting the ball to an open teammate on the other side of the floor.

But he doesn’t make many dangerous passes either. In addition, Brunson Fifth Highest Assistance/Turnover Ratio (3.04) with a utilization rate of 20% or more out of 109 players.

Most of his assistants come through with simple passes, but his ability to turn the corner can create an advantage, and he quickly recognizes the open man…

Jalen Brunson assists Reggie Bullock

While Brunson’s average per touch was 4.78 seconds (32nd Out of 341 players with at least 1,000 touches), he’s not a ball-stopper, he’s more than willing to move if a teammate has more room to shoot than him…

Jalen Brunson assists Dorian Finney-Smith

Brunson 18th place With 13.6 drives per game in the league, more than anyone on the knicks (Barrett leads the team with 12.8). He passed 41.7% of his drives, a rate well above the league average (39.2%).

Only the Jazz (60%) took a lower percentage of their 3-point attempts from catches than the Knicks (63%) last season. So his new team can definitely use Brunson’s ability to create some extra off-the-catch looks. Among 98 players with at least 75 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts and 75 pull-up 3-point attempts, Barrett’s catch-and-shoot accuracy had the 11th largest difference (36.8%) and its pull-up accuracy (25.3%). that was the latter mark third worst Out of a total of 105 players with at least 75 pull-up 3-point attempts.

3. Out of the Ball

As noted above, Brunson was better, but is still below the league average on pull-up 3-pointers, adding to his only 31.3%. But he shot 69-for-172 (40.1%) on catch-and-shoot 3s. and that was single player Which is at least 75. shot at 50% or better (he was 38 for 76) corner Three-point effort last season.

Julius Randall may need to hand over some control of the offense to Brunson’s addition. But Randall’s presence allowed Brunson to play some with the ball, a position he should be comfortable in, having played 54% of his minutes with Doncic last season. While Randall is a ball-stopper, he sees the floor well and only Doncic (486) has more assists than him (474) at 3-pointers in the last two seasons.

Assist Julius Randall

If Brunson and Randall can outperform each other, and if Barrett (now only 22) shows improvement with regards to efficiency and consistency, the Knicks may have something in the range of league-average offense this season. could. It’s not going to make them one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but it will be a step forward.

4. Defense

Brunson probably isn’t going to help the Knicks defensively. He’s not very disruptive, his 1.2 deflections per 36 minutes Ranking 242nd Out of 272 players who played at least 1,000 minutes last season. He’s not going to defend the rim very well as the low guy on the weak side…

Jonas Valenciunas Layup Vs.  Dallas

But he doesn’t make many mistakes and he doesn’t usually skip plays when he shows up. He also grades OK as an isolation defender when opponents have scored just 0.90 points per chance in isolation against him over the past two years. Second is ranked 42nd among 176 players who have defended at least 200 separations in those two seasons, according to Spectrum Tracking.

When he’s busy, Brunson can move his legs, stay in front of his man, and shoot hard(er)…

Jalen Brunson Defense vs Jordan Poole

Brunson would move to a starting lineup that wasn’t very good defensively anyway. The Knicks’ two Most used lineup Fournier, Barrett, Randall and Mitchell Robinson on point guard with either Walker or Alec Burks – allowed 116.6 and 113.7 points per 100 possessions last season. that mark 31st and 28th place Out of 34 lineups playing at least 200 minutes.

Brunson should strengthen that starting group overall. But his new teammates (especially Randall) also need to recover from the disappointing performance of 2021-22. With Knicks other offseason goals now in cleveland Rather than New York, reform from within is even more important.


John Schuhman is the Senior Statistical Analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his collection here And follow him on twitter,

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