Villanova: Point guard Jalen Brunson is about to get paid

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Jalen Brunson is about to get paid.

After failing to come to terms with the Dallas Mavericks before his extension deadline back in 2021, Brunson is one of the rare NBA players who will both hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent and command a contract that isn’t quite a “max” but could be into nine figures.

And frankly, it couldn’t happen to a better player, as Brunson has worked his tail off since leaving Villanova and is now about to reap the rewards he’s sewn.

Jalen Brunson has put in work since leaving Villanova.

On paper, Jalen Brunson had a lot going for him coming out of Villanova. He was a five-star recruit, a two-time national champion, the son of an NBA player, and was the reigning NCAA Player of the Year.

And yet, 32 picks went on and off the clock, and Brunson’s name remained firmly on the board, much to the chagrin of fans of the Main Line.

Why didn’t NBA teams want Brunson? Was it because he’s a tad undersized at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds? Or maybe because he was going to be 22 when his rookie season opened up? Goodness, there’s no way teams thought Brunson’s career would be relegated to that of a sparkplug off the bench, right? I mean sure, he didn’t have, like, gaudy assist numbers at Nova, but Rick’s son ran Jay Wright’s offense masterfully.

Well, after watching three of his teammates hear their names called before him, sometimes justifiably – Mikal Bridges – some not so much – you know who – Brunson finally came off the board, hearing his name called after the phrase “the Dallas Mavericks select.”

The problem? The Mavericks had just drafted another point guard with the third overall pick – okay, technically they traded for him – and he was expected to become the team’s new franchise player and potentially even their starting point guard despite possessing the size of a forward.

At a rookie with the Mavs, Brunson looked like an inarguably effective roleplayer; he averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 assists in 21.8 minutes per game and at times even outperformed Dennis Smith Jr., who was entrenched at the starting point guard spot for much of the season. Though Brunson’s numbers took a minor step back in his second season, largely due to injury, his production exploded during the final two years of his rookie contract, going for 14.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game as an increasingly important part of both Rick Carlisle’s and then Jason Kidd’s offenses.

And now? After the Mavericks erroneously decided not to extend Brunson at a team-friendly number before the deadline? Well, Brunson is going to get paid, with some, like Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, suggesting his deal on the open market could be in the $110 million range.

Huh, not a ton of players from the 2018 NBA Draft class are making that kind of money, especially once selected in the second round.

Next. Cross Taurean Prince off the free agency wishlist. dark

On Thursday, fans the basketball world over will know where Jalen Brunson will play his basketball this fall. They’ll know if he’s reuniting with his father on the New York Knicks, staying in Dallas, or, by some incredible feat of magic, land on another team like the, well, like the Orlando Magic. Either way, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy, as Brunson represents the best of the best Villanova has to offer.