What will Brunson’s stats look like this season now that he’s moved to Gotham to be the starting point guard for the New York Knicks? To get an idea, you would have to look at what he produced for the Mavericks last season … but with a twist.
Brunson is coming off the best season of his career playing in Dallas. As a first-time full-time starter, he set new personal bests across the board with 16.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 3PG, and 0.8 SPG while pulling 50.2 FG%/37.3 3P%/84.0 FT% in 31.9 MPG. .
While those numbers are very solid, they don’t reflect what we should expect of him on the Knicks because the circumstances with the Mavericks are so different from what they will be with his new team.
Last season, Brunson played with one of the most dominant players in the NBA. Luka Doncic, who led the league in usage percentage (USG%) for the second consecutive season, put it all through him on the Mavericks.
So when Doncic (37.4 USG%) was on the court, Brunson (21.9 USG%) was a secondary enabler and more of a finisher than a creator. His production was capped because he just didn’t have the ball in his hands.
That said, his production took a major turn whenever Doncic was unavailable. In 17 regular season games without Doncic last season, Brunson averaged 20.4 PPG, 7.5 APG and 3.9 RPG. So that’s a better starting point for what Brunson’s numbers could look like with the Knicks this season.
Julius Randle was the Knicks’ primary offense creator last season and led the team with 28.7% USG, but this season Brunson is expected to return to that role. He will be responsible for setting the table and setting up easy shots for his teammates, but he will also be the player with the ball in his hands who can look for his own shot.
We also got to see the high end of Brunson’s production potential when he’s really aggressive in his offensive creation during a stretch in the playoffs last season. When Doncic missed the first three games of the playoffs, the Mavericks really relied on Brunson as their offensive engine. It responded an average of 32.0 PPG (50.7 FG%, 41.2 3P%, 85.0 FT%), 5.3 APG, 5.3 RPG and 2.3 3PG in 39.4 MPG while leading his team to a 2-1 lead over the 49-win Utah Jazz.
While no one expects Brunson to come close to that type of point volume for a full season, the fact that he can do it in the playoffs against a strong defensive team, while – and that’s the key – maintaining his shot-across-the-board percentages very positively reflects the scalability of his scoring ability.
Brunson didn’t start dropping 30 a game because he had an unsustainable hot shooting streak for a few games, but rather ramped up to that kind of volume while taking and making the same shots as taking it normally, and doing so while maintaining the same percentages.
So what will Brunson’s stats look like this season with the Knicks? I expect him to average roughly what he produced in his regular season games without Doncic last season. It’s a solid stat line, but it’s not as aggressive as what he showed in the playoffs because the Knicks have other talented offensive players with him.
While neither Randle nor RJ Barrett are likely to come close to Doncic’s league-leading use, they are both capable of scoring 20 PPG and it will be part of Brunson’s job to ensure they are fully utilized.
Still, we now know that Brunson has that extra gear, so if for some reason injuries hit the team and Brunson is called upon to really carry the load, he has the advantage of moving on to an even more elite production.
I have Brunson in the top 25 of my preseason fantasy basketball rankings and expect him to have a special season in his first campaign in the Big Apple.