The New York Knicks record is 3-1 after four games, and offseason acquisition Jalen Brunson is a big reason why. Heading into the 2022-23 Knicks season, the team passed on signing most free agents and didn’t win the bidding war for Donovan Mitchell. The team’s big move was a Jalen Brunson contract for four years and $104 million. That seemed like a lot at the time, and Knicks haters had a field day laughing at the franchise for another classic Knicks move of giving a big contract to a middling NBA player.

The first four games of an NBA season are admittedly a small sample size. But even four games can give you an idea of what is to come. If Brunson’s early numbers are even close to what he will do this season, the deal he signed won’t only be a good one, it will be a bargain. That’s why — at least for now — Jalen Brunson and the Knicks are laughing in face of the haters who criticized his $104 million contract.

The Jalen Brunson contract is working out for the Knicks so far

Jalen Brunson is just four games into his Knicks career, but in his 138 minutes on the floor for the team, he’s been impressive. The raw numbers so far are excellent. Brunson is averaging 20.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in the 2022-23 Knicks season.

The advanced numbers are just as good. Brunson has a sky-high 22.2 PER and a 5.0 box plus/minus, both of which put him in the top 25 of the league.

Most importantly, the 2022-23 Knicks record is 3-1, and with Brunson running the show, the team’s numbers are excellent as well. The Knicks are currently top five in points per 100 possessions (117.2), margin of victory (9.25), net rating (+8.8), and turnover rate (11.1).

Since Brunson is the only major change from last season’s squad, you have to give the point guard a lot of credit for the Knicks’ success so far.

As for the $104 million the Knicks are paying him, that number will be a bargain if Brunson keeps up anything like these numbers for both himself and the team.

The $104 million Jalen Brunson contract pays the 26-year-old $27.7 million this season. That makes him the 47th-highest-paid player in the NBA this year and the 14th-highest-paid point guard.

Looking at the players ahead of him on the point guard list, Brunson’s deal will almost certainly be a better value than Russell Westbrook’s $47 million deal. Additionally, players like Ben Simmons ($35.4 million), D’Angelo Russell ($31.3 million), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($30.9 million), and De’Aaron Fox ($30.3 million) are making more money than Brunson, and there is a solid chance he’ll have a better season than the if plays like he’s playing now.

That makes Brunson the 14th-highest-paid point guard who is playing like no worse than the ninth-best player at the position in 2022. And if you take out some of the “point guards” ahead of him who are more all-around scorers like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Jamal Murray, you’re looking at just six players ahead of Brunson.

A little creative accounting like this creates only six teams that are possibly getting more from what they paid for their PGs than the Knicks are getting from Brunson. Stephen Curry ($48 million), Damian Lillard ($42.4 million), Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million), Chris Paul ($28.4 million), and Kyle Lowry ($28.3 million) are the names on that list.

Making the contract an even bigger value for the Knicks is the fact that after the four years of the deal, Brunson will only be 29 years old. Of the 13 point guards making more than Brunson right now, six players are already over 30 (Curry, Westbrook, Lillard, Irving, Paul, and Lowry), and three players’ deals go past the 2025-26 season (Doncic, Young, and Gilgeous-Alexander).

When the Knicks gave out the Jalen Brunson contract this summer, they hoped that the point guard would be able to put up numbers like he is so far this season. And they hoped those individual stats would lead to team success, which it also is so far.

There is a long (long) way to go in the 2022-23 Knicks campaign, and a lot can happen between now and April 15, 2023, when the NBA playoffs begin. However, for now, it is the Knicks and Jalen Brunson who are having the last laugh and the Knicks haters who are feeling like fools.