Derek Harper chuckled on the narrative that was spun this week, that Jalen Brunson was being overpaid to affix the Knicks.
Simply wait and see, the Mavericks’ tv analyst mentioned. Watch how he impacts successful.
“Persons are going to be shocked at what Jalen Brunson brings to the ground each evening,” Harper, arguably the Knicks’ final difference-maker at level guard, informed The Publish in a cellphone interview Friday, the day after Brunson agreed to a four-year, $104 million deal. “This man is simply particular. … I feel he’s underrated. Not till this 12 months has he gotten the credit score he deserves.
“He was a pleasure to observe, as a result of the larger the second, the larger he stood up, and I don’t suppose you possibly can say that about all people. Loads of guys shrink back from massive moments and antagonistic conditions. That’s going to shock some individuals.”
No one is aware of higher than Harper what awaits the 25-year-old Brunson in New York. Like Brunson, he went from the Mavericks to the Knicks, albeit in a commerce, not via free company. There have been excessive expectations for Harper as he joined a title contender he then helped attain the 1994 NBA Finals. It took time for him to acclimate to the pressure-cooker that’s taking part in level guard for the Knicks, however he doesn’t count on that to be a difficulty for Brunson.
“Constructed for it, born for it,” mentioned Harper, who performed components of three seasons with the Knicks, from 1994-96, and averaged 11.7 factors, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals, serving to them to a pair of 50-win seasons and 5 playoff sequence victories. “There are some guys which can be cerebral sufficient that you would be able to put them in a cage anyplace they usually’re going to combat their means out, and that’s Jalen. Jalen shouldn’t be in awe of any participant on this league. In truth, he needs to show himself in opposition to the perfect.”
Brunson grew up in southern New Jersey, and he has robust ties all through the Knicks group. Crew president Leon Rose is his former agent. Rose’s son, Sam, is his present rep. Brunson has prior relationships with coach Tom Thibodeau and veteran guard Derrick Rose. His father, Rick, was lately added to Thibodeau’s employees. Brunson is aware of what he’s in for.
Harper is so assured in Brunson partly as a result of he has watched his improvement up shut, from a second-round decide in 2018 to a backup to a starter and most lately a breakout playoff performer. He has seen how laborious, and diligently, he works.
Harper jokingly refers to himself because the president of the Jalen Brunson Fan Membership, a gaggle he expects to broaden in New York. Harper mentioned he believes that in time, Brunson is not going to solely be definitely worth the massive contract he simply acquired, however presumably even outplay it.
“I simply see a pacesetter in Jalen, that’s the explanation why I root for him so laborious,” Harper mentioned.
Harper was torn this week as soon as stories started to emerge that Brunson was headed to the Knicks. He was completely satisfied that he was in a position to land an enormous contract within the place he as soon as referred to as residence, however upset that his days calling Brunson’s video games had been over. He grew keen on the southpaw, not simply the participant he had turn out to be, however the high-character particular person, too.
Harper will now need to observe him from a distance. The Mavericks’ loss is the Knicks’ acquire.
When it was prompt to Harper that, not less than on paper, Brunson is the Knicks’ finest level guard since he was operating the present, he laughed.
“Man, I’m 60 years outdated,” Harper mentioned.
That simply illustrates what an enormous downside the place has been for the Knicks over the previous 25 years. However the final man to play that spot constantly properly for them thinks they’ve discovered the precise man.
“I promise Knicks followers that they gained’t be upset in Jalen,” Harper mentioned. “He’s flat-out one of many higher younger level guards on this league. He’s not certainly one of these guys that’s going to get $100 million and never proceed to work at his craft and attain a special top.
“There’s extra to return with Jalen Brunson. You noticed what he did through the playoffs. … They’ve a stable level guard for a very long time to return.”