Trey Burke was on the verge of declaring for the NBA draft after his freshman season before deciding to return and attempt to inflate his stock.
It turned out to be a wise decision for Burke, who came back to win National Player of the Year.
He finished his sophomore season averaging 18.6 points and 6.7 assists on 38.4 shooting from behind the arc, showing improvement in just about every facet of his game.
Burke is a feisty little guard at just over 6'1'', with average athleticism and lightning quick feet. His first step can be deadly, particularly off ball screens, where his stop-to-start quickness allows him to hit the gap hard.
He's visibly stronger than he was as a freshman, and he will need to continue building his upper body strength for play at the next level.
Burke's uninspiring agility score at the combine left some wondering whether or not he'll be capable of guarding next-level point guards. But otherwise, he put up solid measurements and results in terms of height, length and vertical leaps.
What makes him an attractive NBA prospect is his ability to breakdown a defense off the dribble.
He's got an explosively quick first step and "turn-the-corner" speed with the ball in his hands. Take a look at how this speed beats the hedger on the pick-and-roll.
He's able to beat defenders to the spot before they can make their rotation. This creates scoring opportunities not only for himself but for teammates, too. Burke's ball-handling creativity is a nightmare for opposing defenses. He forces off-ball defenders to keep an eye on their man and the ball throughout an entire possession.
Here's an example of Burke breaking down a defense and choosing to drive and dish.
Burke's penetration forces Glenn Robinson's defender to help out down low, leaving him wide open from downtown. Burke has good enough vision and athleticism to see his teammate and execute the pass.
As a ball-handler, Burke stays low to the ground and can change directions on a dime. He's so tough to stay in front of because of his ability to stop, accelerate and stop again.
Here's his hesitation dribble move that gets him a few easy points every game.
Burke plus a high ball screen spells trouble for defenders. He's capable of using them to create space for himself to pull-up and fire off the dribble.
He'll make defenders pay for going under screens. With both feet set he's got good balance and rhythm pulling up off the dribble.
The ability to knock down 20-footers off the dribble makes him a two-way pick-and-roll player and a valuable asset for the NBA. Perimeter ball screens are prevalent at the next level. We've seen that Burke can turn the corner and accelerate to the hoop, but he's also capable of pulling up and shooting off the dribble.
Burke has the mechanics, balance and range to really threaten defenses with his jumper, particularly when he's dribbling over screens or pulling up in transition.
The two challenges for Burke moving forward will be finishing at the rim and defending the perimeter.
At times he struggled finishing amongst the trees, shying away from contact while attempting low-percentage, off-balance shots on the move. This obviously won't get easier once he gets to the next level.
The other challenge is defensively, as scouts will want to know whether he's capable of guarding the lightning quick guards like Kemba Walker, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings, or the stronger ones like Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams.
These are more of challenges than weaknesses, as there's room for Burke to improve in both departments.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Burke will get looks starting with Orlando at No. 2, New Orleans at No. 6 and Sacramento at No. 7. These teams will ultimately have to decide if they feel Burke is capable of being their point guard of the future.
The NBA has become a breakdown league, and that's exactly what Burke can bring. He guided his team to a national title game, showcasing the leadership qualities and durability that every coach wants to see from his point guard.
Burke is highly likely to be the first point guard off the board, and could have the chance to start right away depending on the team that grabs him on draft day.
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