The 2013-14 NBA regular season schedule has been released and everyone is highlighting the must-see games of the season. For Utah Jazz rookie Trey Burke, he might want to just stay focused on game No. 1.
For the Jazz, they wanted to go out and get a point guard that could be a leader now and in the future. Someone who can possibly turn into an All-Star–not that that is something management is requesting he has to do. After drafting Burke, they knew that this was the guy who could possibly turn into what they want.
Game 1 on the schedule: Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
What better way to test a young point guard than matching him up against one of the most athletic point guards in the NBA in the first game of the season? This matchup is something that Jazz fans will be excited about, but also one that Jazz fans should look at realistically.
Westbrook is a much more physical guard than Burke. He can finish at the rim better than Burke, as well. There is a really good chance that during that game, Westbrook goes ham on Burke. This should not get Jazz fans disappointed, however. Fans would like to see Burke have a great game in his debut, but when playing one of the better guards in the league, not a whole lot should be expected.
Games No. 2 through 6 of the season do not get much easier for Burke. He will face quality point guards in each game. Game 2 will match him up against Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns, then Jeremy Lin and the “Dwight Howard-led” Houston Rockets. Moving on to the next three games, they are against point guards in discussion for top point guards in the league in Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and the returning Derrick Rose.
Like Westbrook, the majority of these guards are going to be bigger and more athletic than Burke. Westbrook, Williams and Rose are very similar on the athletic meter. Bledsoe is a matchup that is close to the same size as Burke, height wise, but Bledsoe is much stronger. Rondo is extremely shifty and could be a handful for Burke, but also keep in mind that he is returning from a torn ACL. Jeremy Lin is very quick and his speed could give Burke issues.
I don’t want to get down on Burke and say that after game No. 6 that the Jazz record will be 0-6. I don’t believe that. This game is a point-guard driven game, but a team also has to have the talent to surround the point guard to succeed. That is where Burke may have an advantage on some teams.
For instance, the Boston Celtics look to be in complete “tank mode” this season as they recently traded their franchise centerpieces in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and in return got very little, in my opinion. Besides Rondo, the Celtics’ roster is very thin and should have a hard time winning games.
Bledsoe is talented, but this will be a test for him. For the last two seasons since coming into the league, he has played as a backup to Chris Paul. After being traded to the Suns, he will get his opportunity to run the show. The Suns drafted Alex Len to play alongside Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris down low. The trade also brought over Caron Butler from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns just don’t have any big-name guys to go to in games and they could be in “tank mode” as well this season.
Aside from that, the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Thunder all look like they could make deep playoff runs. They have talent at every position and their benches are all better than the Jazz.
The Jazz should beat the Suns and Celtics. They might put up a fighting chance against the Thunder, mainly because it is the first game of the season and they want to show that they can compete. The Bulls, Nets and Rockets will be tough, though. I expect after six games of the season, the Jazz should be looking at a 2-4 record.
Is that bad? No. It really should be expected. It’s a young team, starting five players all younger than 23 and playing an extremely difficult schedule to start off the season, still needing to find a chemistry. It will be a rough patch, but it will be a fun thing to watch. To see the young guys such as Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks get the opportunity to compete with the best and show what they can do should excite all fans.
With a few exceptions, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to name a couple, this league is mainly this … your team is only as good as your point guard and your team will only go as far as your point guard will take you. Trey Burke will get to that level where he can lead this team deep into the playoffs, but it won’t be right off the bat. When the team starts the season 2-4, don’t boo them, but stay looking on the road that lies ahead. This team is built for the future and the future begins with some tough tests.