Trey Burke tore up college basketball as a sophomore at Michigan. He guided his school to the championship game as the National Player of the Year.
But despite all the success he had roughing up the toughest conference in America, scouts and executives have been hesitant to proclaim him a can't-miss NBA prospect.
The Utah Jazz were aggressive during the 2013 draft and made a deal to move up and grab their point guard of the future.
Burke will be stepping into a difficult situation, given all the inexperience surrounding him on the roster. He should have a long leash and green light, along with a steep learning curve ahead.
Most of the challenges Burke will face center on his physical limitations, which can be difficult to overcome depending on the severity.
Though quick and decisive with the ball, Burke lacks upward explosiveness. You didn't see too many dunks from him at Michigan.
That lack of elite athleticism and explosion in his legs limits his ability to separate. And at just 6'1'', Burke needs all the separation he can get. This is a big problem for him at the rim, where he struggles to finish in and around traffic.
During NBA summer league, Burke shot a dreadful 24 percent from the floor and 1-of-19 from downtown. With bigger defenders protecting the rim, he had trouble getting off clean shots without having to dramatically adjust mid-air:
Burke's inability to explode over defenders makes his shots easy to alter in the paint.
He's ultimately forced to contort his body and use touch on the run to get shots up over outstretched arms. Burke has to take a lot of low-percentage shots in high-percentage areas on the floor.
He faces the same challenge shooting on the perimeter. Burke needs to exert so much energy separating that he doesn't have enough left to release the ball with comfort.
Below, Burke almost has to double-clutch in the air to get his shot off cleanly over his man. It calls for too much wasted motion as opposed to a quick, fluid flick of the wrist.
While Burke has the moves, his lack of size and explosiveness won't make them easy to execute.
Challenging Defensive Outlook
Burke does not project favorably as a defensive guard at the NBA level. He's not very physical at all and struggles keeping his assignment from getting to his spot.
Below is a perfect example of Burke failing to knock the ball-handler off track. He offers little resistance, allowing Northwestern's point guard to get to the rack without changing direction:
Burke also scared a lot of scouts and executives at the NBA combine when he put up one of the worst agility scores (11.2 seconds) amongst all the point guards there.
And given his lack of strength, Burke could get exposed trying to defend the pick-and-roll. Too often he allows a ball screen to take him out of the play.
Below, Burke does a poor job of fighting through a ball screen on the perimeter.
He ultimately loses the ball-handler and fails to pick up the screener who's now rolling to the basket.
Burke may never be a defensive asset, but he'll have to keep from becoming a liability.
There's no question that Burke has the skill set and leadership skills. He can shoot it, create off the dribble and run a half-court offense.
But for Burke to succeed as Utah's franchise point guard, he'll need to somehow neutralize his defensive limitations and find clearer paths for playmaking. If there's traffic on the highway, Burke will have to locate those service and side roads.
If he fails to meet expectations as the Jazz franchise point guard, it won't be because he lacks NBA talent—just NBA physical tools.
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