The New York Knicks are relevant once again and the man behind their resurgence deserves his flowers.

After signing a four-year $104 million deal with the Knicks in July 2022, Jalen Brunson has revitalized the franchise and Madison Square Garden with his fearless demeanor and hard-nosed play.

New York has gone 96-67 or 58.6% of its games over Brunson’s time with the team–a vast improvement from their 316-478 record in the 10 seasons prior to his arrival. With two games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Knicks, who sport a 49-32 win-loss record, have a legitimate chance at recording their first 50-win season since the 2012-13 campaign.


The second seed in the Eastern Conference is well within reach as well. All it will take is for New York to win their last game and the Milwaukee Bucks to lose their final outing.

Regardless of whether or not they hit the 50-win mark and catch the Bucks for second place though, this season has already been a resounding success for Brunson and the Knicks. When three-time NBA All-Star forward Julius Randle went down with what would eventually be diagnosed as a season-ending shoulder injury, most pundits believed that New York’s season was as good as over.

Instead, Brunson welcomed the added responsibility as he became the Knicks’ clear cut number one option in Randle’s absence. In the 32 games that he has played without Randle since January, the 6’2 guard has averaged 31.3 points on 48.0% field goal shooting, 2.7 three-pointers, 3.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 0.9 steals.

More recently, he has found yet another level while leading New York’s charge up the standings. Over his last 15 games, Brunson has bumped up his per game numbers to 34.1 points on 49.3% field goal shooting, 3.3 three-pointers, 3.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and a steal.

This torrid run includes his career-best 61-point game against the San Antonio Spurs last month together with four games where he scored between 42 and 45 points. He also had another six games with at least 30 points and had just one outing with less than 20 when he scored “only” 17 in a win against the Brooklyn Nets.

The 27-year-old guard’s play as of late has not only pushed the Knicks to the brink of the second seed in the East, but has also earned him a place in this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player conversation. While it may be difficult for him to leapfrog the body of work that Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have put together this season, he has a strong case to be fourth place in this race given how important he has been to New York’s success. This in itself is already a major achievement for the former second round pick whom no one expected to become even remotely this good.

Brunson might even be able to sneak into the All NBA First Team at the expense of Gilgeous-Alexander if recency bias comes into play for voters given that the latter has missed some games in recent weeks due to minor injuries.

The long-suffering Knicks have finally found a hero to rally behind in Brunson and many are curious to see how far he can take them. Like most teams that have been coached by Tom Thibodeau, this New York team is a gritty group that plays harder than its opponents each and every night. It will be interesting to see if this can translate to the postseason where opponents will be playing just as hard and have the luxury of taking more time to scheme against them.

Nonetheless, this season has been nothing short of an absolute win for the Knicks and it is exciting to think about what lies next for this historic franchise.