The 20-year-old All-American sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, has averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game this season. During the Wolverines' run to the 2013 NCAA Final Four, he proved why he's one of the most clutch players in the country and an appealing NBA prospect.
His penchant for creating shot opportunities has lifted John Beilein's crew on countless occasions. The highlight so far is his 23-point, 10-assist effort in the Sweet 16 against Kansas, including a game-tying rainmaker with time winding down.
As a leader, playmaker and competitor, Burke has electrified the college hoops world. Now the question is whether he can make an impact at the pro level.
No matter what it takes, he will find a way to get the ball in the hoop.
Burke's agility, ball-handling and knack for finishing in traffic allow him to score from anywhere on the floor or set up his Wolverine comrades. It's no wonder he leads the Big Ten in points produced per game (20.2) and assists per game (6.8).
He excels shooting off the left-handed or right-handed dribble and has an NBA-ready jump shot. Pro scouts are also glad that he's equally dangerous in catch-and-shoot situations.
On drives, Burke has the strength and body control to out-maneuver the defense, hit short-range shots or score off glass. In the pick-and-roll he's a quadruple threat: He can drive all the way, pull up for a jumper, dish the pocket pass to the roll man or pass weakside to a spot-up shooter.
He's not as adept on the other end of the court, but he can be a capable on-ball defender when he wants to be.
Overall, his leadership and shot-making are the two strengths that make him a potential lottery selection.
The chief concerns surrounding Burke are his size and the fact that he's not an elite athlete.
At 6'0", it may be more difficult for him to get his shot off, finish over defenders and avoid pass deflections in the NBA. Nearly every guard he faces at the next level will be taller and longer, even though he has a 6'5" wingspan.
As an attacker and stopper, Burke doesn't possess lightning-quick foot speed or phenomenal lateral quickness. That could make it more challenging for him to penetrate against NBA defenses. He could also be a matchup liability when he has to guard the league's fastest facilitators.
The other area he could upgrade is finishing with his left hand. Burke's a capable left-handed dribbler, but when he gets to the cup he favors a layup or scoop shot with the right. He does attempt lefty tosses but isn't as successful.
Passing certainly isn't an Achilles' heel for him, but there's some room for improvement. In the half-court setting, he must learn how to distribute better.
These weaknesses won't be enough to scare teams from selecting him in the lottery, but they won't be ignored.
Burke's intangibles make him a special collegiate player and an intriguing NBA prospect.
His competitiveness, leadership and will to win are rarely matched and never exceeded. Although he's undersized, he's confident enough to carry his team, and his tenacity finds a way to the rim.
Michigan's deep tourney run can be attributed largely to Burke's ambition and clutch nature, but it's also fueled by his leadership.
Beilein explained the point guard's quiet but powerful leadership and the difficult task of directing so many freshmen:
That’s like a quarterback that’s got his offensive tackle’s a freshman, his wide receiver is a freshman, and his running back is a freshman, and he still leads them to wins. So he’s taken a lot on as far as leadership. Quiet leadership now, but it’s been huge for us.
The only concern related to intangibles for Burke is his approach on defense. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com noted that he "isn't the toughest or most attentive defender you'll find" and explained that Burke picks his spots to apply himself on that end.
At the next level, he can't afford to go 80 or 90 percent in on-ball defense, and he knows it. I expect him to adjust and be more committed.
NBA Player Comparison and Ideal NBA Role
From a Final Four standpoint, many liken Burke to former Connecticut star Kemba Walker. Looking ahead to the pros, he also compares to Kemba, but achieving Walker's success and productivity is a best-case scenario, as Walker is quicker.
The two are similar in stature and leadership, but that's not where the parallels end. Burke possesses Walker's creativity, step-back move and shot-making ability. They're both point guards who are better at scoring 20-plus than racking up a slew of assists.
Burke's worst-case scenario is something in the neighborhood of Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas or a slower version of Orlando Magic veteran Jameer Nelson.
Had an NBA GM tell me he could see Trey Burke as a "Jameer Nelson" type at the next level. Just not as physically developed yet.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 31, 2013
He'll likely end up somewhere in between Walker and Nelson, supplying a lottery franchise with 25-30 minutes of facilitating and scoring.
Overall 2013 Draft Outlook
A masterful NCAA tournament has launched Burke's stock toward the top half of the first round, so there will be a couple of losing NBA clubs with an eye on him.
I don't foresee him landing in the top five, and I also predict he won't slide past the 17th or 18th pick.
If the Orlando Magic fall to the middle of the lottery, they'll draft Burke to help Nelson and groom him as the point guard of the future.
In the event that Orlando gets a top-five lottery spot and uses its pick on a more tempting forward or wing, the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves are suitors who will look to upgrade the backcourt.