Jalen Brunson shows inaccuracy of pre-draft NBA scouting

Jalen Brunson was not a part of the 2018 Dallas Mavericks’ pre-draft draft board because the team was sure he would not be available when they made their second pick.

When it was their time to announce the 33rd pick in the draft, they could not believe he was still there.

All teams, in every sport, say that during the draft,“A miracle; never in our wildest dreams did we think Player X would be possible.”

A few actually mean it.

The Mavs meant it.

The team had already traded for Luka Doncic in that draft class, and Brunson was a gift they did not expect to comprise the best draft class in the team’s history.

Brunson is the reason why the Mavericks didn’t die without Doncic in the lineup for the first three games of their first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

After being sidelined with a calf injury, Doncic was finally a “go” for Game 4 late Saturday afternoon. But this is a series only because of Jalen Brunson.

Doncic scored 30 points in his first game back of the series, but the Mavs blew a late lead and lost Game 4, 100-99. The series is tied at 2.

Game 5 is 8:30 on Monday night at the American Airlines Center.

Brunson can be a free agent after the season, and soon he will bathe in a pool of cash because he proved, once again, that so often the measurables that scouts make their money collecting should be thrown in the garbage.

If anyone had bothered to watch Brunson during his standout career at Villanova they would have seen he had upper-tier NBA upside.

Instead, they looked at the length of his arms. They looked at his soft physique. They focused more on what he wasn’t than what he was.

What he is as a player is the guy who walks into the gym for a pickup game, and is quickly dismissed because he doesn’t look like much.

The game starts and he slowly, carefully, kills everyone on the court with an array of fundamentals that drives opponents to yell at each other.

Have a good laugh reviewing Brunson’s pre-draft reviews from various places that do this sort of guessing.

From The

“Smooth shooter off the catch or the dribble. Can punish defenses for sagging off in pick-and-roll.”

“Phenomenal footwork.”

“Subpar physical tools and athleticism for an NBA PG. Not super quick or explosive. Only 6’2 with a 6’3.5 wingspan.”

“Solid passer who makes smart decisions but not a particularly creative passer. Will hit the open guy but not going to throw a guy open.

“Similarly, he’s a good not great shooter.”

“Brunson lacks the physical tools or outlier skills to have much upside beyond a backup role. That being said, his smarts, strength, and well-rounded offensive game give him the chance to be a solid backup if things break right.”


“Keeps the defense honest with his outside shot. Has great basketball IQ and always plays the right way.”

“Isn’t an overly explosive player and doesn’t wow you with athleticism. Lacks top end speed and quickness and could struggle defending in iso situations.”

“Projects as a solid role player more than a star at the next level.”

“Reminds of Andre Miller with a better jump shot.”

The Crossovers Front Office via Sports Illustrated

“Strong finisher around the basket, using either hand to finish among the trees and offset his size and athleticism disadvantage.”

“Limited athlete but uses excellent footwork to make up for lack of quickness and speed. Not extremely explosive getting into the paint.”

“Physical limitations may hinder him on the defensive end, particularly against upper-tier NBA athletes. He’s a one-position defender given his size.”

“Comparison: Derek Fisher.”

“His strength is impressive, as he weighs around 201 pounds and is great at using his physical tools to get where he wants to go with the ball in his hands.”

“Just an average athlete overall and won’t blow anyone away with his quickness or explosiveness, even at the college level, and not certainly not the NBA.”


“He could look to be more aggressive in terms of taking it to the hoop and drawing fouls (4.1 FTA per game). Athletically, Brunson is limited, he lacks good/elite level quickness and explosiveness, while he’s learned to play as an average athlete, he will likely struggle trying to create separation in ISO situations in the pros.”

This season, for the fourth consecutive year, Brunson raised his scoring average. He contributed 16.3 points per game, and also averaged 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds.

In the first three games of these playoffs, he averaged 32 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists with three turnovers in 118 minutes. He scored 41 points in the Mavs’ Game 2 win.

In Game 4, he scored 23 points.

Again, he was the 33rd pick in the draft, and he wasn’t even on the Mavs’ draft board.

This story was originally published April 23, 2022 4:23 PM.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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