Jalen Brunson is the linchpin of the Dallas Mavericks playoff hopes

Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson
Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks are headed for the playoffs for the third straight year behind superstar Luka Doncic. The 23-year-old is one of the top five players in the NBA, and the team will only go as far in the postseason as Luka leads them, but it is Jalen Brunson that may be the deciding factor in the Mavs winning their first playoff series since bringing the title back to Dallas in 2011.

Brunson played his way into the starting five in his breakout fourth NBA season. The 6’1 guard is averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.9 steals in 32.1 minutes per game, which are all career-highs. He is shooting 50.4 percent from the field, 38.0 percent on his threes, and 83.0 percent from the foul line. JB gives Dallas a second ball-handler on the floor, and he is a key piece of the starting and closing units.

Brunson struggled to stay on the floor in last year’s first-round playoff loss to the LA Clippers, and he wants to prove that was a fluke. Here is a look at why the Mavericks need JB playing his best if they plan on making a deep postseason run.

Jalen Brunson is the linchpin of the Dallas Mavericks playoff hopes

Brunson is one of the Mavs' most efficient offensive players, but he relies on creating small gaps to get off his shots. That gets more difficult in the playoffs as defenses stiffen and the physicality increases. Can JB keep up his effectiveness? 

If not, the Dallas Mavericks could be in trouble in their first-round series no matter the opponent. Here is a look at three reasons why they need Jalen Brunson producing in the postseason.