With the NBA draft just days away, you've likely heard all of the lazy stereotypes about how this year's class is one of the weakest ever—perhaps containing some nice role players and depth at the end of the first round, but completely void of superstars.
But I'm not buying it.
Yes, most (OK, all) of the players projected to hear their names called first have undeniable question marks, and perhaps that's what is fueling the heavy criticism, but it's not like there are zero players with all-star upside and talent.
In fact, there are quite a few—and of that group, Michigan point guard Trey Burke seems to be getting the least amount of attention.
Yes, like everyone else, he has flaws.
His size, or perhaps more accurately, his strength (6'1", 187 pounds) raises concerns about his defensive ability, and on offense, his athleticism isn't overwhelming and his shot selection can sometimes be less than ideal.
Let's start with the former.
For some reason, whenever pundits refer to Burke's size, they seem to forget about his gaudy length. According to DraftExpress, his wingpsan stretches to 6'5.5", which isn't much shorter than Michael Carter-Williams (6'7"), who always draws rave reviews for his Inspector-Gadget-like arms.
Moreover, he's improving as a defensive playmaker. After averaging just 0.9 steals per contest as a freshman, Burke pilfered 1.6 per game in fewer minutes as a sophomore.
In isolation situations on the perimeter, his quickness and length will make him a very good defender.
There's still a worry as to how he'll handle bigger guards or fight through screens on the pick-and-roll, but according to New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams—via Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com—he has put on some necessary strength:
Monty Williams said Trey Burke has "put on some muscle and looks a little bit different" than during Michigan's run to NCAA title game— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) June 14, 2013
Of course, even if you still worry about his size, Burke's talent, intelligence and winner's mentality more than offset his physical limitations.
In fact, his sophomore season was quite similar to that of another 6'0" sophomore point guard, who is now one of the most dominant players in the NBA:
Their efficiency wasn't much different, either:
It's clearly far too early—and unfair to both players—to start saying Burke is the next Chris Paul, but as you can see, they were similar players coming out of college.
And they have similar attributes.
Burke uses the pick-and-roll with a surgeon-like approach, as his intelligence and ability to read defenses help him make the right decision nearly every time.
Where do you see Burke in 5 years?
He'll knock down a long three if you go under the screen and drive to the hoop if you decide to fight through it. He could still improve on his finishing ability at the rim, but once in the lane, he always knows whether to shoot or find the open teammate.
Simply put, Burke is a crafty playmaker who is capable of both scoring and getting his teammates open shots—and to top it off, he's absolutely dynamic running the most common NBA play.
What might be most indicative of his future as a superstar in the end, though, is the fact that he's simply a winner. It's cliche, but Burke has the "it" factor that you can't really define.
He is a tremendously hard worker, impossible to unnerve and always willing to take—and knock down—the big shot.
Years later, when we look back at the 2013 draft and see Burke's name (presumably) slotted outside the top five, we'll wonder how we ever had the gall to call this a weak class.