Jalen Brunson, PG
Time has been good to Jalen Brunson. The first glimpse of Brunson was in the summer league, where he was… uninspiring. Even at the beginning of the season, he was shooting very poorly and he just looked lost on the floor playing with the backups.
His ability to play on or off ball and his playmaking were always going to be an important asset for Carlisle’s dual ball handler offense. The questions surrounding his athleticism and three point shooting were a concern that held true for a good part of the season.
As the season progressed and after Dennis Smith Jr was shipped off to the Big Apple, Brunson started to play more confidently and more like we envisioned he would play coming out of Villanova.
This all happened over the span of a season. Not only is it remarkable how much the former Wildcat improved in a season, but also how confident he looked as he ended the season.
He’s carried that over to the preseason. In 4 games, the Villanova product averaged:
- 14.1 minutes per game
- 9.8 points per game
- 4.8 rebounds per game
- 53.8% Field Goal percentage
Unfortunately, Brunson has only shot 25% from the three point line this preseason. This continues to be a mild concern but with the floor spacing currently on the team, Brunson’s playmaking will be extremely valued.
This was the case in his only start of the preseason. The Mavericks played the Los Angeles Clippers, while Brunson only scored 6 points, filled the rest of the stat sheet with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. This was all in the span of 15 minutes.
Brunson’s playmaking and understand of the offense will make him difficult to place on the bench. The starting lineup looked dynamic with Brunson starting as he was another playmaker for a Mavericks lineup already with Delon Wright and Luka Doncic.
The added playmaking doesn’t hurt, but if Brunson moves to the starting lineup, that is one lesser point guard to help lead the bench unit, a unit Brunson has played well with.
So, is he the mystery man?
I think Brunson is the guy.
This is a strange lineup to consider as that would give the Mavs three ball handlers on the court, but Brunson’s ability to play without the ball will allow for a lineup like this to work. This issue Brunson brings is floor spacing, however, if Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis, and Luka Doncic are all on the court, it should allow Brunson to get some easy looks in the mid-range for him to convert.
In addition, the height the rest of the starting lineup bring would allow Brunson to play against the smallest player on the opposing team. That doesn’t so bad.
Thus far, these four players have played better when on the bench and they all will be important players for the team this season as they look to make the playoffs for the first time in 5 years. Regardless of how Carlisle toys with his starting lineup, the Mavericks look like they will be an exciting team to watch. That’s worth some preseason suspense.