Jalen Brunson led his team to two national championships, was the consensus National College Player of the Year, and did plenty of other stuff throughout the season to fill his award shelves.
Despite that, he continues to be projected as a late first or early second round draft pick for the NBA Draft.
As The Ringer sums it up, “A classic point guard prospect that’ll fall in the draft because of his age, then play 10-plus years in the NBA.”
Brunson has all the traits that you look for in a rotation player. But of course, draft day will come along and teams will get distracted by freshmen who aren’t particularly because upside and maybe one day they’ll be as good as Brunson already is.
Bruson spent his time at Villanova as something of scoring-first point guard, but not a ball-dominant one. He shared the scoring load throughout his time there, with Mikal Bridges last season and Josh Hart last year. He was an extremely efficient scorer, posting a 63 percent career true shooting percentage, effective inside the arc (58.7 percent two point percentage), from deep (39.3 three point percentage), and was able to get to the line (.357 free throw rate and 82 percent free throw shooter).
For scoring efficiency, his credentials are pristine.
He’s not the type of point guard who racks up a ton of assists, though his 26 percent assist percentage the past two years has been fine. But he knows how to run an offense. Villanova had the top offensive rating in the country and had the fourth best last year.
Defensively, eh, teams aren’t going to be drafting Brunson for his defense. He’s fine, but nothing special on that end.
The question for Brunson is in his size and athleticism. But I don’t really get it. He’s listed as 6’2 or 6’3. That’s prototypical point guard size. And no, he’s not a remarkable athlete, but he was plenty quick off the dribble.
In many ways, Brunson’s draft dilemma is similar to Yogi Ferrell’s. Ferrell also led the country’s top offense and put up solid numbers, but stood just 6’0 and was unremarkable athletically. He went undrafted in the 2016 draft, but has been rock solid in the NBA so far.
The the player who he reminds me of, well, check out their numbers:
Player A: 17.1 points per game, 6.4 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.1 steal, 59.2 percent true shooting percentage, 31.6 percent assist percentage, 12.8 percent turnover percentage, 1.7 percent steal percentage, .222 win shares per 48 minutes
Player B: 16.9 points per game, 4.4 assists, 1.9 turnovers, .9 steals, 64.3 percent true shooting percentage, 26.4 percent assist percentage, 12.7 percent turnover percentage, 1.7 steal percentage, .233 win shares per 48 minutes
Both players are able to step up with their teams need it, are cerebral point guards, are able to score anywhere on the floor. Both are around 6’3, 200 pounds and rely more on savvy than overwhelming athleticism. They both wore the same uniform number, 1. Oh yeah, I’m making that comparison. Jalen Brunson and Chauncey Billups.
But then, I might not be the most reliable person to do a review on Brunson. I’m an unapologetic fan, have been pretty vocal about him on Twitter.
I'm going to keep saying it: Jalen Brunson is the best player in college basketball.— Steve Hinson (@Shinons8) December 8, 2017
My love for Brunson runs pretty deep...
I still say Brunson is the best PG prospect in this class - even ahead of Young.— Steve Hinson (@Shinons8) March 13, 2018
By the way, I still stand by that.
But still, feel free to temper this overly glowing review of Brunson in the comments.
Really, Brunson shouldn’t make it past the Denver Nuggets, who played Devin Harris 20 minutes per game, at the 14 pick. But he probably will. And if he really drops, he’d be a no brainer for the Pistons.