The Dallas Mavericks got one step closer to winning a playoff series for the first time since 2011 when it won the NBA championship by blowing out the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
Luka Doncic’s return from injury has been key, and he had a great outing on Monday with 33 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists.
But the X-factor for Dallas in this series has been guard Jalen Brunson.
He had 24 points in Game 5, and he has played extremely well throughout the series thus far.
Jalen Brunson put Royce O’Neale in a blender 😳pic.twitter.com/ryeThREqPb
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 22, 2022
Brunson will be a free agent this summer, and some team, be it the Mavs or someone else, will surely give him a handsome new contract that will set him and his family up for life.
Brunson Is Coming Up Fast
In 2018, Brunson was a lightly regarded player when he was taken with the 33rd overall pick in the NBA Draft.
His father, Rick Brunson, played nine seasons in the NBA but had a rather unremarkable career.
The younger Brunson started out quietly, averaging less than 10 points a game in both of his first two pro seasons.
Last year, he upped his scoring to 12.6 points in 25.0 minutes per game while shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from 3-point range.
This season, the 6-foot-1 guard put up 16.3 points a game, but he has started to truly come of age in the series against the Jazz.
He exploded for 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting in the Mavs’ Game 2 win without Doncic, and Brunson followed it up with 31 points in Game 3 as Dallas took a 2-1 series lead.
The Villanova product has also shown that he has some playmaking skills.
He averaged 4.8 assists per game in the regular season and through the first five contests of the series against the Jazz he has maintained a 4.6 assists per game average.
It’s one thing to put up solid numbers in the regular season, but when a player plays substantially better in the playoffs as a young and emerging member of a team, it is a sign that he is tapping into a great potential within.
Brunson Can Become A Crucial Pillar For Dallas
While Doncic is young (he just turned 23 years of age), it is of paramount importance that owner Mark Cuban surround him with one or two other bona fide stars so that the Mavs can soon become a legitimate championship contender.
If what the basketball world has seen from Brunson lately is real and not a fluke, perhaps he could become the third or fourth-best player on an elite team.
His above-average 3-point shooting can make him a reliable outlet for Doncic when teams key on him defensively, and his playmaking skills can also ease Doncic’s load.
When this series began, many thought that the Mavs had virtually no chance of even competing as long as Doncic was out, but Brunson changed that narrative.
Charles Barkley: The Mavs can’t win without Luka
Jalen Brunson: pic.twitter.com/6qvb1Ce9ZF
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) April 19, 2022
Even if the Mavs end up losing this series, Cuban will have to summon a Brinks truck to keep Brunson in Dallas, and he will have earned it.