Mar 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke (3) during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Jazz defeated the Sixers 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: Trey Burke’s Focus For Improvement


What did you expect from Trey Burke in his rookie season?

Pre-draft expectations left most confident that he would be a solid lottery pick who could potentially win Rookie of the Year, depending on the team that selected him.

After watching Burke struggle worse than D-league hopefuls in the NBA Summer League, optimism shifted to thoughts of peril regarding his outlook in his first campaign. Burke couldn’t shoot and didn’t look anything like the stud point guard that led his Michigan team into the Final Four. He managed just 8.8 points and 4 assists on 24 percent shooting from the floor in the four summer games he participated in. He made just one of the 19 shots he took from 3 and had a player efficiency rating of (gulp) 3.5.

Eager to put the summer nightmare behind him, Burke entered training camp ready to lead the Utah Jazz offense. Apparently the basketball gods were angered and Burke suffered a wrist injury that delayed his debut until Nov. 20. Clearly things were pretty ominous for Burke heading into his rookie debut.

Burke would have to adjust from a winning culture in college to one of frustration with the rebuilding Jazz, but his rookie season was far from a failure. His numbers on the season should garner him second-team All-Rookie honors with 12.8 points, 5.7 assists and three rebounds per game. Another semi-positive was the 1.9 turnovers he committed which could have been a lot higher given how bad Utah was this season.

Unfortunately he shot just 38 percent from the floor and that is the area where he will need to focus on for improvement next season. He doesn’t get to the basket enough and settles for long jumpers, taking 26 percent of his shots from 16 feet or deeper. That number suggests heavy usage of the pull-up jumper and shooting as the ball handler in pick and roll. His size has been questioned and could easily be a factor for the heavy attack from the outside as opposed to probing the paint like, say, a Tony Parker.

If he can develop a more reliable jumper and at some point construct a floater, his offensive efficiency will increase to give him greater ability to drive and even create for others once in the lane. This is something that has to improve especially if the Jazz lose Gordon Hayward in free agency. Burke shared ball-handling responsibilities with Hayward and could see a greater increase in those responsibilities and defensive attention if Hayward were to find another team.

Perhaps the greatest area of improvement for Burke will come in his maturation as a defender. Size be damned he didn’t do a good job of staying in front of his opponents and didn’t fight through screens to initiate recovery defense. His defensive rating of 115 was atrocious even given the fact the point guard position is stacked in the league currently.

Even with those deficiencies Burke is still poised to have a very good career. The intangibles of confidence and the clutch gene permeate within him. He just simply wants to be a good player and the Jazz flat out need him to be.

He could very easily go unchallenged for minutes at his position again next season But efficiency and defense must be his focus to avoid becoming another good college player who didn’t live up to expectations in the NBA.

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