Monday, May 20, 2024

Jalen Brunson snubbed by Team USA with 2024 Olympics roster revealed

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Jalen Brunson was snubbed by his country.

The point guard, arguably the best player in the Eastern Conference this season — and certainly the best guard — was left off the 11-man Olympic roster revealed Monday by ESPN.

The U.S. guards are Tyrese Haliburton, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Stephen Curry. Of that group, only Haliburton has yet to win a gold medal.

Brunson, who has had a better NBA season than all those players, was on the U.S. World Cup squad last summer that disappointed and failed to medal.

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

He was outplayed during the tournament by Haliburton, but coach Steve Kerr said recently he was “high on our list” for the Paris Olympics.

Apparently not high enough.

The U.S. can bring 12 players but “may initially keep one spot open,” according to ESPN.

The other players to make the cut are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards, Bam Adebayo and Anthony Davis.

Josh Hart was also part of the Olympic pool after participating in the World Cup but wasn’t a serious contender for a spot in Paris.

Brunson, meanwhile, closed his landmark NBA season with another Player of the Week honor after averaging 38.5 points over the final four games.

It was the fourth time this season Brunson won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and fifth since joining the Knicks — the most for the franchise since Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks went 4-0 in the final week. Brunson shot 51 percent, including 50 percent from beyond the arc.

He’s also the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March.

But he’s not on the Olympic team.

OG Anunoby is feeling good heading into the playoffs.

That wasn’t always a given after the defensive stalwart underwent elbow surgery and suffered a setback that prompted him to miss nine more games.

But Anunoby’s final six games — which included five wins — went without a hitch, and the postseason will represent his final trial before likely hitting free agency.

The Knicks are the front runners to re-sign Anunoby, who is expected to decline his $20 million player option for next season. The Knicks own Anunoby’s Bird Rights so they can go over the cap to bring him back.

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) looks to drive past Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden on April 14. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

“Oh, it’s a great team, great organization,” Anunobdy said Sunday. “Front office is great. Fans are great. Great city. MSG is great. It’s been great so far.”

Anunoby has a championship ring but didn’t participate in that 2019 run with the Raptors after being diagnosed with “acute appendicitis.”

He has logged 27 career playoff games — all with the Raptors — with averages of 11 points and 4.5 rebounds on 49 percent shooting.

Coincidentally, Anunoby could face his former coach in the first round — Nick Nurse — who is guiding the Sixers in their play-in game against the Heat on Wednesday.

The winner faces the Knicks at MSG on Saturday.

“It’d be cool to play Nick,” Anunoby said. “He’s a great coach, as well. I’m sure he’ll have his team ready to go.”

Defensively, Anunoby doesn’t have an obvious main assignment against the Sixers — Joel Embiid is too big and Tyrese Maxey is too fast — so the Knicks used him against Tobias Harris in a January matchup.

But he has that switch-ability that allows for great cover in pick-and-roll actions.

OG Anunoby slams the ball over the Nets’ Trendon Watford during the third quarter on April 12.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“OG, the thing I love, he’s going to make you work,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Even if you score, he’s going to come back the next time and do it again and again and again. That’s what I love about him. His staying power. Then he found a rhythm offensively. We need him at his best.”

Perhaps Anunoby wasn’t quite at his best at the end of the season — not after such a long layoff — but he got better and remained healthy.

Thibodeau apparently didn’t receive votes from his peers for Coach of the Year.

Mark Daigneault, who guided the Thunder to 57 wins and the top seed in the West, won the National Basketball Coaches Association’s NBA coach of the year Monday, the league announced.

It’s different from the more recognized NBA Coach of the Year, which is voted on by the media. The NBCA award, introduced in 2017, is voted on by other head coaches and Daigneault, just 39 years old, is a first-time winner.

According to ESPN, other votes went to Orlando’s Jamahl Mosely, Boston’s Joe Mazzulla, Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff and Minnesota’s Chris Finch.

Thibodeau, who coached the Knicks to 50 wins this season, has never won the NBCA award. Even when he captured his second NBA Coach of the Year honor in 2021, his peers voted for Phoenix’s Monty Williams.

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