Utah Jazz: Hurting Without Trey Burke

The Utah Jazz have been terrible offensively in their first four games this season. To some extent, this was expected as the team is still learning how to play together, as players adapt to different roles than they have been used to and as the team is missing three players that will each likely prove to be a big piece of the offensive puzzle. Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams are both experienced players with offensive success and each able to hit from 3-point land, but biggest loss for Utah has been their heralded rookie point guard Trey Burke.

The pain of Burke’s absence is equal parts missing his skills and the additional minutes for less effective point guards. What we know about Trey is that he has potential, but we don’t know how successful he will end up being. However, it would be fair to guess he could be more productive than the combo of John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley. Through the first three games, neither of that duo has shot better than 32 percent from the field, while Lucas has only hit on about 19 percent of his 3-point attempts and Tinsley finally hit his first in Tuesday night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Compounding the terrible shooting is the fact that we aren’t seeing great distribution from the PG spot. Lucas, who is averaging about 33 minutes per game, is only dishing out just more than three assists per game. A young team without an offensive star simply needs a distributor to get the ball to players in easy positions to score.

As the evidence suggests, the biggest benefit of the arrival of Trey Burke might be to give Lucas fewer minutes and position his minutes against less effective bench players rather than starters. Having said that, there is certainly reason to believe Burke can thrive in the NBA. Last year Trey was second in the Big Ten in scoring and he ranked in the top 10 in both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage. He led the conference in assists per game, assist percentage and total assists. Clearly these are strengths that have been glaringly absent of Utah so far this season. If Burke can represent even a minor improvement over Lucas, it may have the added benefit of reducing the pressure on playmakers like Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks (who has had to spend some time at the less-comfortable PG position), possibly allowing them to have better looks offensively.

Utah is now 0-4. They weren’t expected to be good, but if the offense doesn’t improve, confidence could start to get dangerously low which will impede development. Burke has a follow up appointment on Nov. 11 to check on the progress of his broken hand. Utah will be crossing it’s collective fingers, hoping that Trey can get into action as soon as possible.

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Tags: Trey Burke