Jalen Brunson has had an incredible postseason stretch, and considering his diminutive stature, his performances throughout these NBA Playoffs have earned him high praise from many, including but unsurprisingly, gigantic New York Knicks fan Stephen A. Smith.

Smith, who has long been outspoken about his Knicks fandom and likely should not be considered an unbiased source, compiled a Top 5 list of “playoff runs by small guards.” The list featured Brunson's 2024 postseason at the very top and included no player from before 2000.

  1. Jalen Brunson – 2024
  2. Kyrie Irving – 2016
  3. Damian Lillard – 2019
  4. Stephen Curry – 2015
  5. Allen Iverson – 2001

While there's no way to argue that each of these runs were — or in Brunson's case, are — impressive, but a key omission drew a response from NBA legend Magic Johnson. Johnson, who could never be confused for a small guard, advocated for someone he played against plenty during the 1980s.

“Stephen A. you forgot Isiah Thomas scored 25 points in one quarter on an injured leg against my Showtime Lakers during the 1988 NBA Finals!” Johnson tweeted. “How could you leave him off your All-Time Playoff small guard list?”

Thomas even chimed in on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Small guards? lol ok. I must be miniature then,” Thomas said.

They have a point. Thomas, widely considered one of the greatest point guards of all time, led the Detroit Pistons to the NBA Finals in three consecutive years from 1988 to 1990, with the team winning back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. Thomas averaged 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in the NBA Finals over those three seasons. Additionally, Thomas averaged 24.1 points and 8.7 assists in the 1987 playoffs en route to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, as well as 21.9 points and 8.7 assists in his first run to the Finals in 1988.

Brunson's inclusion, while again not surprising, also seemingly ignores the possibility of the end of Brunson's run being less than spectacular. The least successful of the four runs (in terms of team success and excluding Brunson) is Damian Lillard's 2019 postseason. While his individual performance was extraordinary, the Portland Trail Blazers were swept in the Western Conference Finals. Brunson and the New York Knicks have to win Game 7 to even get as far as Lillard and the Blazers did.

There's also the exclusion of Stephen Curry's 2022 run, during which he netted his fourth NBA Championship and earned his first NBA Finals MVP. Curry averaged 27.4 points and 5.9 assists on 39.7% shooting on threes in the 2022 playoffs and further cemented his status as one of the best players in NBA history.

Jalen Brunson's 2024 playoff run

New York Knicks player Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson, in large part due to his small size, was overlooked to a great degree coming out of Villanova. Despite being named the National Player of the Year and winning two national championships, Brunson was a second-round pick who spent several seasons with the Dallas Mavericks in a relatively limited role.

Since breaking out in the 2022 NBA Playoffs and becoming a Knick, Brunson has proven himself to be a much larger influence than most expected. This postseason, in particular, has been a platform on which Brunson has shined bright.

Through 12 playoff games, Brunson is averaging 33.7 points per game (the most in the NBA) and 7.3 assists. He has also been tasked with shouldering even more offensive responsibilities due to the Knicks' injury woes. And in Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, Brunson will likely face his toughest and most anticipated test yet.

Brunson and the Knicks will host the Pacers for Game 7 tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. ET.