Jalen Brunson is not going to change.
The Knicks know exactly what they’re getting. And exactly what their new point guard will provide every day, regardless of his play or circumstances.
“To me, they’re getting a great point guard, a great leader, a great person. A person that can score the ball, can run the team, and then most of all they’re getting a person that’s consistent everyday,” God Shammgod, who worked with Brunson the past three seasons as the Mavericks’ player development coach, told The Post. “They’re getting a person that’s an everyday person. And in life, not just basketball, to me there’s nothing more important than an everyday person. Everyday his energy is going to be the same, everyday he’s going to come with the right attitude, with the right hard work, and it might seem simple to people, but that’s hard. In life, not just in basketball, that’s hard in life, to get a person you know you can count everyday to be the same.
“Not saying you’re not gonna have bad days or good days, or some days better than others, but as far as him personally, he’s always the same person everyday. And that’s a hard working, intelligent basketball player that’s about the right stuff.”
For too long, that’s been painfully absent in New York. Julius Randle, the team’s big-money signing two offseasons ago, followed up a breakout second season with a mercurial third campaign, at times fighting with fans amid erratic performances and demeanor. Evan Fournier, last summer’s splash signing, went through extreme hot-and-cold streaks, oscillating in his shooting confidence.
It’s been perhaps most glaring at point guard, where a lack of any regularity at the position that most requires it has plagued the franchise for over two decades. In recent years, Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose failed to even be available on the court after teasing initial hope. Before them, Jeremy Lin offered a brief flash of success before his reign quickly came to an end.
Brunson provides the Knicks that long-awaited reliability and consistency at a position that’s grown infamous for being absent of those qualities in New York.
“That’s because of the type of person he is, the type of person his family raised, he’s not really walking into anything too crazy,” Shammgod said. “Everything New York is built on, everything New Yorkers want is already in him. He’s not a person that’s just out there [in the nightlife] plus he’s a good kid, he’s a good human being. He loves the gym, I mean loves the gym. He’s not gonna go to New York and be something totally different. He’s not a person that’s hanging out until four or five in the morning and stuff like that. He’s going to New York to be the New York Knicks’ point guard, and that’s how he’s gonna approach it every day.”
Shammgod knows all about expectations and playing point guard in New York. A high school star at La Salle Academy in Manhattan during a late ’80s-early ’90s era that saw New York City point guards become iconic, he is part of Showtime and Boardroom’s soon-to-be-released “Point Gods” documentary. The film, which features Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, Stephon Marbury, Rod Strickland, Kenny Smith and more, depicts the impact that era of New York City basketball players left on basketball and the larger cultural community as a whole . Shammgod played two seasons at Providence, where as a sophomore he led the Friars to the 1997 Elite Eight. He played one season in the NBA for the Wizards before moving overseas.
Now as an assistant with the Mavericks, Shammgod worked closely with Brunson for three of his first four seasons in the NBA, and has seen his development firsthand. With more experience and even greater reigns of the offense, Shammgod sees even better decision-making, playmaking and scoring in New York.
Much has been made the role Brunson’s father, who played for the Knicks and is currently an assistant coach, played in Brunson’s decision. Shammgod knows the family, and knows that everything Rick Brunson instilled in his son set him up for this moment. Brunson, who grew up in New Jersey, might not be a New York City point guard. But he’s got everything it requires to now be New York City’s point guard.
“I think it sets up great for him. As far as, I’m from New York, so I know the fans love nothing more than a consistent, consistent player. As long as you work hard, the fans are gonna give you that same energy. And his father is assistant coach over there, his father and his family have done a great job with him, helping him and growing him into the man he is today. I don’t think he’s gonna have any problems with the fans, and I think the fans are gonna appreciate what he brings to the table every day.
“See the thing about the Knicks, if you’re with the Knicks you can’t get too high or too low. You’ve got to stay in the middle, and that’s who he is as a person and as a player. He’s never the kid that’s gonna be like, when things are going good, he thinks ‘I’m the best person in the world,’ [and] when things are not going good, [think] ‘Oh, I can’t play’ — that’s not Jalen. Jalen is always gonna be in the middle and always working.”