Since leaving the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2022 to sign a four-year, $104 million deal with the New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson has transformed himself from a winning complimentary piece who contended for 6th Man of the Year and Most Improved Player in back to back seasons in Dallas to someone who has a legitimate MVP case just two years later. While leading a renaissance of basketball in New York, the former 2nd round pick has ascended the league at warp speed, establishing himself as a bonafide #1 scoring option for a pseudo-title contender when just three years ago, the notion of Brunson being nearly a 30-point-per-game scorer for a 50-win team would've seemed as outlandish as Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau establishing a social media presence.

This, of course, is further proof that player development is an inexact science. It's why someone like Jalen Brunson, a stocky and undersized point guard who found great success at the college level, could slip all the way to the 33rd pick in the NBA Draft, and just six years later have the Knicks on the verge of clinching a 2-seed in the Eastern Conference while making a push to be featured in the top five of award voters' MVP ballots. And yet Tom Thibodeau signing up for an Instagram account, or as Thibs called it, a “Fake-A-Gram” account, still hasn't happened.

This is a no-nonsense team that plays with a passion and joy that is palpable, and Jalen Brunson's leadership and tireless work ethic are what has made it all possible. The Knicks must've long seen something like this in Brunson, because at the time they swooped him and stole him away from the Dallas Mavericks, the general consensus was that they had overpaid for the Villanova product. Sure, Brunson had shown his scoring ability in spurts — most notably, when the Dallas Mavericks were missing Luka Doncic at the start of the Playoffs in 2022, and Brunson responded with a 41-point performance against the Utah Jazz — but the idea of Brunson doing this over the course of an entire season had still yet to be proven.

As things stand right now, Brunson is averaging 28.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game on 48-40-85 shooting splits with just one game left in the season, and as the Knicks prepare to enter the postseason, it's easy to argue that their alpha dog is enjoying his most impressive stretch of individual play ever. Over the last sixteen games the Knicks are 11-5 and Brunson has taken his game to another level, putting up 34.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.

As for how you stop Jalen Brunson, I'm not quite sure what that answer is. I expect that some smart team will find a way to at least slow Brunson down during the postseason. It's hard to imagine that he'll continue to score nearly 35 points per game, as he has over the last month. But so far, no team has stumbled upon a reliable answer. It doesn't really matter what sort of defender you assign to him, or how many different looks you throw at him, Brunson continues to feast no matter what the matchup is.

It must be all that time he's not wasting on Fake-A-Gram.