March 2, 2023 | 10:24 p.m
Charles Barkley drinks the Jalen Brunson Kool-Aid.
The rising Knicks have won seven in a row and ten of 12, with Brunson leading the way.
Barkley spoke on TNT’s Inside the NBA Thursday night about what a great free-agent acquisition Brunson has been.
“Jalen Brunson is arguably one of the best free-agent pickups in NBA history,” Barkley said. “What he did this year is historic.
“We didn’t know that Jalen Brunson was such a good player – nobody thought that.”
Barkley understood that Brunson isn’t quite on the same level as LeBron James or Kevin Durant when it comes to free-agent acquisitions, but stressed that earlier this season the Knicks felt the Knicks wildly overpaid to get the point Guard in a deal worth $104 million over four years.
“Everybody thought at the beginning of this season that he was overpaid,” Barkley said, noting that Brunson excelled in the playoffs after Luka Doncic picked up a calf injury late in the season.
“When did it shine? [last season]? When Luca got hurt.
“Last season during the regular season nobody said Jalen Brunson was going to be a great free agent – but when Luka got injured he showed what he could do.”
Brunson, 26, is averaging 23.8 points and 6.2 assists per game this season.
Brunson scored 39 points on 15-for-18 shooting from the field in the Knicks’ 142-118 demolition against the Nets on Wednesday.
“The ball went into the hoop,” Brunson said after the performance. “I can’t really explain it.”
Head coach Tom Thibodeau was impressed.
“When a player plays like that,” he said. “The rating is impressive.
“For me it’s more impressive to fight against the doubles team and get the ball out quickly.”