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In appreciation of Jalen Brunson’s subtle fakes, hesitations, and drives

Brunson doesn’t have flashy moves, but that doesn’t mean he’s boring.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson is having a solid third season for the Dallas Mavericks. He performed well as a rookie and struggled a bit last season, but this year he’s played so well it’s worth having a conversation about moving him into the starting lineup. (Just the conversation, though.) He’s averaging a career high in points, assists, and rebounds.

There’s nothing flashy about Brunson’s game. He’s not especially athletic, and he’s always one of the smaller players on the court. There’s no signature move he uses to get open. He’s just a guy built like a fire hydrant with tight handles. Despite all that, he’s able to create space and get open shots and drives to the rim. How? Using subtle fakes and hesitations to leave defenders in the dust.

Our man PandaHank41 (as always, subscribe!) put together a short video of Brunson’s work, and it’s a fun watch:

I love the little things about basketball. Carmelo Anthony’s footwork. Steph Curry setting screens. Nicola Jokic’s passing. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve rewound several of Brunson’s plays while watching the Mavericks this year.

There’s something about his quick turns, subtle dips, and perfectly timed hesitations that brings me basketball joy. The fact that he’s able to create space with fake step backs, shoulder shimmys, and half second pauses is amazing to me.

Sometimes we get a little too caught up in the macro of the NBA and should turn our attention to the details that make the game of basketball beautiful. This video by PandaHank did that for me, and I hope it does the same for you.