Jalen Brunson – Villanova
CPP Big Board Ranking: #31 Overall (#9 PG)
Weight: 198 lbs
Age/Birthday: 21 (8/31/96)
Hometown: Lincolnshire, IL
High School: Adlai E. Stephenson High School
(Grant Kobrin – 5/8/18)
Jalen Brunson is coming off of not only a season that culminated in a national championship for Villanova, but a season in which he was awarded the player of the year recognition. This was Jalen Brunson’s second national championship for Villanova, as he was a starter on the 2015-2016 national championship team for Villanova during his freshman year at Nova. After three years of tremendous amounts of success for Jalen Brunson in a Villanova uniform, Brunson has officially declared for the NBA draft and is hoping to hear his name called sometime during the first round on draft night. Jalen Brunson has certainly proved himself to be a dominating force in the college game, but questions still remain about his possible impact at the NBA level. Jalen Brunson is someone that really could be picked in a very wide range on draft night – as he could be picked just outside of the lottery or he could slide into the early-mid second round. I personally believe he will fall somewhere in the bottom of the first round, probably around the 25th pick or so. Overall, Jalen Brunson is one of the best guards that fans have had the chance to watch in college basketball in recent years, but questions still remain about his draft stock and his future impact as an NBA player.
Jalen Brunson is a smart, calm, and confident point guard who looks like he could excel as a leader in just about every NBA offense out there. Jalen Brunson can really score, and that was shown through averaging just under 19 points per game this past season. He had outstanding shooting percentages this season, where he shot over 40% from beyond the arc, over 52% from the field, and just above 80% from the free-throw line. These numbers are extremely impressive and indicate how good of a shooter Jalen Brunson really is. Brunson excels at shooting the ball off of the dribble where he can act as a playmaker and a shot creator, but he also looks very comfortable shooting it off of the catch. He has shown to be a good driver at the college level where he showed the ability to finish inside the paint, and even seemed to develop somewhat of a postup game against smaller guards towards the end of his final year at Nova. Besides his scoring ability, Brunson is a very unselfish player and has well above average court vision for a point guard. Jalen Brunson averaged nearly 5 assists per game this past year, which is off of the charts for a college point guard. Jalen Brunson showed the ability to feed teammates in transition, as well as create scoring opportunities for teammates in the halfcourt setting – through dumping the ball in the post or collapsing the defense and finding open teammates on the perimeter. Jalen Brunson was a solid defender in college, where he was able to hold his ground against most of the opposing point guards he was matched up against, but questions still certainly remain on his defensive impact in the NBA. Brunson is also a decent rebounder for a smaller guard, and was certainly able to improve on that area of his game throughout his college career. Overall, Jalen Brunson is a very fundamentally sound point guard who has the tools to possibly be a productive player at the NBA level.
Jalen Brunson’s main weaknesses lie in his size and athleticism. Jalen Brunson is only listed at 6’2”, which will make him one of the smaller guards at the next level, and it doesn’t help that he has short arms for a basketball player. He is not going to be able to overpower guards at the next level, he is going to have to be able to beat them off of the dribble or create space for himself. Athletically, Jalen Brunson is a good athlete for a college point guard, but will be a below average athlete for a point guard at the next level. He lacks explosiveness, an elite-level first step, and is not super quick laterally. This will limit his contribution on the offensive end, and may make it difficult for him to guard explosive point guards such as Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, John Wall and the like. Besides the questions about his size, athleticism, and defensive impact, Brunson has a few other areas of his game to improve on. On offense, Brunson constantly over dribbles which may make him turnover bound at the next level. He has also shown to be too unselfish at some points, and needs to not pass up open shots. Another thing in terms of his defense is that he needs to work harder to cause more turnovers and create more havoc on that end of the court. He averaged less than one steal per game in each of his three seasons at Villanova, which is not good at all for a college point guard. Overall, Jalen Brunson has a few major questions that will need to be answered for him to be impactful in the NBA, and a few other minor weaknesses that he absolutely should be able to improve upon in his first few years in the NBA.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Jameer Nelson
Jalen Brunson is most comparable to Jameer Nelson. Both players are shorter and stalkier point guards, can shoot from all over the court, are good facilitators and playmakers overall, and don’t necessarily excel on the defensive end of the court. Jameer Nelson was a pretty good NBA player in his prime though, where he was typically one of the better point guards in the league and even managed to make an allstar team one year. Jalen Brunson definitely has some work to do to become as impactful of a player as Jameer Nelson was during his prime, but it is as good of a comparison as it gets.
Expect Jalen Brunson to be a bottom of the first round pick, most likely around the 25th pick. He could go a bit higher as mentioned earlier, but he also could potentially slide well into the second round. The biggest concerns with Brunson is his lack of elite level athleticism, his shorter size, and his potential as a defensive liability at the next level. However, the NBA needs players like Brunson who are fundamentally sound, can lead a team, can make the winning shots, and having a winning mentality and a record to prove so. Jalen Brunson, as the most recent winner of the player of the year award, will be an interesting case of how impactful he really is at the next level.
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