Home » Jalen Brunson would be an expensive Kemba Walker on New York Knicks

Jalen Brunson would be an expensive Kemba Walker on New York Knicks

by TLD

Jan 12, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) goes up for a shot in front of New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) during the first half at Madison Square Garden, Jalen Brunson would be an expensive Kemba Walker on New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson would be an expensive Kemba Walker on New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

There is a growing sentiment around the league that the New York Knicks’ top objective this offseason is to sign impending free agency point guard Jalen Brunson. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated on June 21 that the Knicks were looking to clear $25 million in cap space before the start of free agency to pursue Brunson.

New York made significant progress towards accomplishing its goal during the NBA Draft. They were involved in a three-team trade with Detroit and Oklahoma City, allowing them to get rid of Kemba Walker and move out of the first round.

They sent Walker’s $9.2 million salary to Detroit and the draft pick rights of Ousmane Dieng to Oklahoma for future picks. The trade allowed New York to open up $13.7 million in cap space.

Although New York did a great job clearing cap space, they did it for the wrong reasons. Brunson is a player who does most of his offensive damage as a pick and roll ball handler. He has spent 31.9 percent of his possessions as a pick and roll ball handler averaging 3.6 per game since 2018. He has shot 50.8 percent from the field on 2.95 attempts per game. The field goal percentage helped him average 9 points per game.

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle’s presence would force the Knicks to use Jalen Brunson off the ball for most of the game like Kemba Walker last season.

Jalen Brunson would be an expensive Kemba Walker on New York Knicks

At first glance, Brunson’s skill set strength appears to be a match for the Knicks’ offense. New York was 7th in pick and roll possessions last season, averaging 21.5 per game. However, when you look beneath the surface, Brunson will have to push his pick-and-roll skill set into the background if he joins New York.

The team likes to have three players stand behind the arc while running a pick and roll as spot-up/three-point shooters. For example, Barrett and Randle spent at least 20.7 percent of their possessions, averaging a minimum of 4.9 per game over the last two seasons.

If New York makes Brunson the primary pick and roll ball handler, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett will spend a significant amount of their possessions in the spot-up role.

Unfortunately, both players have been inefficient in the role, shooting below 39.2 percent on a minimum of four attempts per game. Their struggles would allow opponents to put multiple defenders on Brunson.

The Knicks will have to make him a spot-up shooter for the team to be effective, as Barrett and Randle are most efficient in the restricted area. Both players have shot over 54 percent in the restricted area since 2019 on at least four attempts.

The strength and weaknesses of both players were a factor in Walker changing his playing style upon joining the team. Before last season, Walker spent 49.6 percent of his possessions in pick and roll, averaging 10 per game. He shot 43 percent on 8.2 attempts per game.

In New York, he only averaged 6.1 per game, 50.6 percent of his possessions. The decrease in pick and roll led Walker to spend most of his minutes off the ball. Walker spent 19.6 percent of his possessions as a spot-up shooter averaging 2.4 per game, tied for second-highest in his career. Walker also took a career-high 53.8 percent of his shots from behind the arc averaging 5.4 per game.

Walker had the skill set to thrive in the role as he shot over 36 percent from behind the arc before his New York arrival. He maintained his success from behind the arc, with the Knicks shooting 36 percent.

Brunson is a better performer behind the arc, shooting 37.3 percent from behind the arc on 2.7 attempts per game. Unfortunately, like Walker, Barrett and Randle’s presence will force him off the ball for most of the game.


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