Practice Report: Jalen Brunson
Mavs G Jalen Brunson weighs in on today's practice, what motivates him and more.
DALLAS – It seems like everything Jalen Brunson touches turns into gold.
Chosen 33rd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in last month’s NBA Draft, Brunson already has won a truck load of awards that would make any of his competitors feel a bit envious. That includes awards that go all the way back to his prep days at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill.
Both as a high school junior and senior, Brunson was named the Illinois Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year. As a junior he also was named the No. 1 point guard in the nation.
In addition, Brunson led Stevenson to the Class 4A state title as a senior. That’s the same year he was named Illinois Mr. Basketball.
And the plaudits didn’t stop there.
While at Villanova, Brunson helped the Wildcats capture the NCAA title during his freshman season and also during his junior year this past April. That’s two NCAA championships in a three-year span.
And Brunson wasn’t along for the ride. The 6-3, 190-pounder made the Big East All-Freshman team in 2016, and was a consensus first-team All-American and won the prestigious National Player of the Year award this past season.
In other words, those around him and are privy to his game know Brunson can flat-out ball. Which is why the Mavs used the third pick of the second round of the draft to secure his services.
“He is a hard worker,” Mavs summer league coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He’s very cerebral in his approach on how he goes about the game.
“He is going to be very good for our guys from a standpoint of understanding national championships, the work ethic that it takes, and he fits right in to exactly how we want to play and how we want to conduct our organization.”
Being an integral part of a winning organization is in Brunson’s DNA. So how will he help translate that mindset to the Mavs, who are coming off a 24-58 season?
“It’s the same mindset,” Brunson said. “I’m just trying to be the best player I can be every day.
“It doesn’t matter what I did, no matter what I accomplished. I just try to focus on what can I do to get better. And that’s the mindset ever since I was a little kid, so I just try to keep that mindset.”
Part of that mindset comes from Brunson’s dad, Rick Brunson, a journeyman guard who played for eight different organizations during his nine-year NBA career from 1997-2006.
In fact, the first professional team Rick Brunson played for during the 1995-’96 season after he graduated from Temple was an Australian team named the Adelaide 36ers. It’s the same organization guard/forward Mitch Creek – he’s currently on the Mavs’ summer league squad – played for from 2010-‘18.
Jalen Brunson told Mavs.com that he has talked to his dad every day since the Mavs’ summer league training camp started this past Monday. And he’ll undoubtedly be talking to him after the Mavs play their first game at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas on Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT against the Phoenix Suns at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“He just asks me how I’m doing,” Brunson said. “The best part about him is I know when he’s being a father and I know when he’s being a coach to me, so I don’t take anything personal what he says to me.
“He’s the best father in the world once he’s being a father figure.”
Being the son of a pro athlete, Brunson revealed, has its advantages.
“I got to meet a lot of people,” Brunson said. “I got to meet (Mavs proprietor) Mark Cuban, I got to meet a lot of big-time people, big-time players.
“But I think the best part about that is that it didn’t faze me. It just made me want to get to this level as fast as I can and try to be here and compete at this level as best as I can. Just being around the game made it really enjoyable for me to continue to work and want to get to this point.”
So when did Brunson come face-to-face with Cuban for the first time? He said: “When my dad was with the Bulls and they played the Mavericks and I was just in (Chicago) for that.”
For Brunson, to now work for the Mavs and receive paychecks from Cuban is so surreal.
“I’m just really excited just to know that they have a lot of confidence in me, and are a team that has high expectations for me,” Brunson said. “So I’m really excited and I just want to contribute as soon as I can.”
Brunson averaged 18.9 points and 4.6 assists for Villanova this past season when he also shot a healthy 52.1 percent from the field and an impressive 40.8 percent from behind the 3-point line. Yet, although his spectacular resume is littered with nothing but incredible examples of winning and leadership skills, he still leaves nothing to chance.
In a nutshell, Jalen Brunson’s background discloses a story where success would inevitable come his way as long as he rightfully dissected the steps that led his dad making it to the NBA.
Rick Brunson was the Most Valuable Player of the McDonald’s All-American game in 1991. And as fate would have it, in the side shows that comprised the 2015 McDonald’s All-American game which Jalen Brunson ultimately played in, Jalen Brunson won the skills competition and was the runners-up in the 3-point shooting competition.
Perhaps with all the extra hard work he’s put in and the undeniable coaching he received from his dad, Jalen Brunson was destined to one day land on the NBA stage and walk that same journey that has dad walked. However, Jalen Brunson is the first to admit that doesn’t mean the works stops here, or the final chapter is written on a splendid career that has witnessed one fantastic accomplishment after another.
“I’m working on all aspects of the game,” said Brunson, a second-team Academic All-American this past season. “The three (point shot) is a deadly component in this league today, so obviously I’m working on that every day and I’m just trying to be a perfectionist and get better every day.
“No matter what I do it’s going to be an experience. So I think with that experience I’ll be able to grow as a player and as a person.”
And keep turning everything he touches into gold.