Who is better for the Mavericks? Kyrie Irving or Jalen Brunson
The Dallas Mavericks pulled off a blockbuster trade for Kyrie Irving just five days before the deadline. The franchise wanted to add more talent around Luka Doncic, and the 24-year-old superstar was pushing the Mavs to upgrade their roster. He is leading the league in scoring, but number 77 wanted a co-star that could help the team compete for a championship.
Dallas had one just last season as they reached the Western Conference Finals, but they let him get away. Jalen Brunson left in free agency for the New York Knicks, and the Mavericks got nothing in return. Brunson has taken his game to another level in the Big Apple, and the Knicks are 39-28, which is 4.5 games better than Dallas on the morning of March 8.
Brunson leaving started a chain reaction that forced the Mavs to trade for Kyrie. They could have re-signed the 6’1 guard at a massive discount at one point, but even in free agency, it would have saved Dallas from giving up Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and three draft picks. Dallas might even have a third star at this point, but it is worth asking who is better between the two talented guards. Here is a look at their games before determining who has the edge.
Jalen Brunson gets the edge over Kyrie Irving on the defensive end of the floor
Both are undersized guards that struggle on the defensive end of the floor, but Brunson has the slight edge. He competes hard whenever he is on the floor, and his stout frame makes him difficult to back down in the post. JB buys into the defensive scheme and makes plays on both ends.
Irving is a subpar defender, whose effort fluctuates. For all of his offensive gifts, the 6’2 guard has had a negative defensive box score plus-minus for three straight years.
Neither player is unplayable on the defensive end of the floor, but both have limitations. Irving is often hidden on a lesser matchup, but he does up his defensive intensity late in games.
Neither player got their massive contract because of their defense. It was because of their special offensive gifts.