When the New York Knicks decided to throw the money bag at free agent guard Jalen Brunson, there were many who felt the move was typical of a franchise that continues to get in their own way of success.
Fast forward a few months later, and Brunson has been a key piece for the Knicks being squarely in the playoff picture, making the investment seem smarter by the day.
In fact, it's been rewarded to the point Jalen Brunson is a candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year award for this season. If head coach Tom Thibodeau is being asked, Brunson should be the favorite for the award. Thibodeau makes his case in an interview with SNY's Ian Begley (via Yahoo Sports).
“He’s made a quantum leap this year,” Thibodeau said Tuesday. “When you look at his shot profile, outstanding. He’s getting to the line more, he’s shooting more threes, he’s playmaking, he’s creating easy offense for us. He’s managing and controlling the game, he’s bringing the best out of his teammates.
“He has all the attributes that you value: he’s tough, he’s smart, can think on his feet, dedicated to his craft, competitive.”
Besides the attributes Thibodeau mentions, Brunson has the numbers to back it up. He's averaging 24 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. He's shooting 49 and 42 percent from the field and three-point line, respectively, and only Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry has something similar to all of those averages Brunson has.
For what it's worth, Utah Jazz forward/center Lauri Markkanen is the favorite (according to FanDuel) to win the MIP, with Brunson being third behind Markkanen and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.