“Absolutely [he is Team USA’s best player], and Steve Kerr basically said that when he called him the leader,” Perkins said. “He’s the engine to this team, and at what point are we going to start actually putting Jalen Brunson in the same category with guys like Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown?”
“We’re talking about a guy, outside of Team USA and representing for his country, that helped the [Mavericks] go to the Western Conference Finals, then put the Knicks on his back last season and helped him get to the second round,” Perkins added.
Brunson averaged 31 points and 6.3 assists against the Miami Heat that went to the NBA Finals. He scored more than 30 points in four of six games, including matching his playoff career-high with 41 in Game 6.
“[Brunson] went toe-to-toe with the Miami Heat and Jimmy Butler. He’s a legit superstar-caliber player that gets it done when it matters the most and you could go to him in the fourth quarter when it’s a possession-by-possession game. So this guy continues to get better, and we have to start putting him in the conversation with the likes of the other young superstars around the league just to be fair,” Perkins said.
3 Knicks Players in Tier 5 of The Athletic’s NBA Player Tiers
Three of the Knicks’ young players made it to tier 5 of The Athletic’s NBA Player Tiers.
RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes were listed in the Top 100-125 players entering the next NBA season, along with the likes of four-time champion Klay Thompson and former MVP Russell Westbrook.
The trio played key roles in the Knicks’ playoff run last season. Barrett finished the season strong with a solid stretch in the playoffs. Quickley was a runner-up to Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year race while Grimes made strides and cemented his spot in the starting unit.
The Knicks’ future has never been this bright in over two decades.
3 Knicks Players Likely to Get Traded
Knicks reporter Fred Katz of The Athletic answered a fan mail on who are the Knicks’ top three players who are likely to get traded before the next trade deadline, assuming the right star becomes available.
Top of Katz’s list, who is the most obvious one, is disgruntled guard Evan Fournier. The French guard was removed from the rotation last season. He has an $18.9 million expiring contract for salary matching purposes in a star trade.
Next on the list is RJ Barrett, whose $107 million, four-year contract extension kicks in next season. Combining his annual salary with Fournier will get the Knicks to a star in the $45 million range.
Last on the list is Quickley, who is extension-eligible. The Knicks added another guard, Donte DiVincenzo, in free agency. The former Villanova guard can replace Quickley should the Knicks trade him.