Jalen Brunson led the Dallas Mavericks past the Utah Jazz on Thursday night in a 126-118 win, bringing the series score to 2-1 in the Mavericks’ favor.
Brunson had 31 points, five assists, and just one turnover on 12-22 shooting from the field, 0-4 shooting from three, and 7-7 shooting from the line.
“It’s just me being myself, just trying to help my team win,” Brunson said after the game, via ESPN.
“That’s all I’m thinking about now. I’m not really thinking about it as a coming-out party.”
Brunson’s back-to-back 41-point and 31-point performances have been something of a coming-out party; whether the second-round pick guard wants to admit it or not.
“He’s a talented player,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell – who had a team-high 32 points on 10-21 shooting from the field, 1-8 shooting from three, and 11-12 shooting from the line – said after the game.
“And he’s a winner. You’re seeing that. Pretty much for the first time in his career, people are really seeing it.”
Brunson is set to be an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season – and each magnificent playoff performance is adding millions to his next contract.
Pundits previously speculated that Brunson could be in the market for a four-year, $80 million contract (akin to the contract the Denver Nuggets gave Gary Harris in 2018); but his recent play suggests that that dollar amount could rise north of $100 million.
Still, Brunson, 25, has posted modest career averages of 11.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists on 49%/37%/80% shooting splits.
It will be interesting to see what kind of interest the emerging guard garners on the open market.