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NY Post
New York Post
5 Aug 2023


NextImg:Jalen Brunson: Team USA presence will make me more prepared for Knicks

LAS VEGAS — Jalen Brunson has no concerns about his Team USA presence leading to burnout.

Instead, he expects it will help him hit the ground running once the Knicks begin training camp for the 2023-24 season. 

“I think it’s another way to get ready for training camp,” Brunson said following Team USA’s practice Friday at UNLV as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup. “You gotta look at it and see the positives that come out of this, going towards the NBA season. I know I’ll be ready for that. I think for me, my mindset is focused on this and not really worrying about what’s going on ahead right now.” 

Team USA coach Steve Kerr has yet to declare either Brunson or Tyrese Haliburton as his starter at point guard for the World Cup, which will begin for the Americans in three weeks in Manila, Philippines.

Brunson, however, figures to carry a heavy load for the team. 

But with 40-minute games, his minutes workload will be nothing close to the 35-per-game threshold he averaged for the Knicks last season, so the organization can breathe easy knowing he won’t be run into the ground.

The college-like format of FIBA competition could also help Brunson (and for that matter, Knicks teammate Josh Hart, who is also on the team) work on specific pieces of his game — baseline-out-of-bounds plays, for example, since there are no sideline inbounds in FIBA. 

Jalen Brunson will spend time with Team USA.
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

The point guard is coming off a career-best season, in which he led the Knicks to a first playoff series victory in a decade, averaging 24 points and 6.2 assists for Tom Thibodeau’s squad. 

He also emerged as a leader in the locker room.

Julius Randle said Brunson helped push him through an ankle injury to play in the postseason. 

“I saw how hard he worked,” Randle said on “The Shop: Uninterrupted.”

“I’m a worker and I saw how diligent he was, his focus level to it. So JB’s really pushed me.” 

Jalen Brunson dribbles the ball during the USA Men's National Team Practice as part of 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Jalen Brunson dribbles the ball during the USA Men’s National Team Practice as part of 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Joe Amati/NBAE via Getty Images

When the topic was brought up on Saturday, Brunson quickly deflected credit. 

“The one thing I noticed that Julius does work,” Brunson said. “That’s a compliment coming from him. He has that mindset. I may have helped a little, but that’s really all him. He’s a worker. Comes in every day and does what he has to do. Practices and makes sure he gets all his work in. 

“While I think I help in bringing that type of leadership to the team, Julius has always had that mindset of being able to work hard.” 

Randle underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle at the start of June. He is expected to be ready for training camp. 

“It means a lot [that Randle played in the postseason],” Brunson said. “Guy going out there and risking a lot to help his team win, what more can you ask for.

“We have, obviously, the utmost respect for him. We’re just waiting for him to get healthy, moving onto next year and seeing what he can do.” 

The expectation will be raised for the Knicks going into the season despite a relatively quiet summer. The Knicks signed Donte DiVincenzo, Brunson’s former Villanova teammate, and traded away Obi Toppin.

Otherwise, the roster is essentially the same as the group that won 47 games last season — just with raised expectations. 

Brunson taking the next step, then, will be key for the Knicks doing the same.

He hopes his Team USA stint will put him on that path. 

“It means a lot,” he said. “This opportunity doesn’t come around a lot. Very select few people get this opportunity. I’m honored. I’m committed to it. For me, I just want to do the best I can. Be myself, really just not overdo it. Be myself and go out there and lead.

“Just go out and try to win gold.”