Utah Jazz Ought to Start Alec Burks at Point Guard Alongside Gordon Hayward

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

February 20, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena. The Spurs defeated the Jazz 106-102. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Big point guards are all the rage these days. And the Utah Jazz may have one on board in 6'6" Alec Burks.

Similarly-sized Michael Carter-Williams thrashed the the defending champion Heat in his NBA debut. Dante Exum might sneak up on Andrew Wiggins to be the No. 1 pick in 2014.

And Burks could potentially give the Jazz the biggest backcourt in the league.

For much of Utah's season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Burks was the second-best player on the floor behind OKC's Kevin Durant. He finished with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and six assists.

His ability to get to the rim was on display all night—a product of his size and athleticism. Once he got there, OKC often had no other course but to foul and Burks hit 8-of-9 from the line.

In terms of natural scoring ability, Burks might be Utah's best. If he hones his skills a bit, he could be just as effective as Gordon Hayward or Enes Kanter on that end.

But this article isn't about how many points Burks can score. It's his ability to create that makes him a viable replacement for the injured Trey Burke.

The Jazz have struggled to create offense through the preseason and one regular season game, at least when Burks is on the bench.

His playmaking was excellent during his 32 minutes against the Thunder. Just stating the fact that he led Utah in assists doesn't do it justice. Check out this beautiful dime to Mike Harris on the fast break.

Since he worked with John Stockton on his point guard skills over the summer, Burks has shown an increased desire to distribute the ball.

As the backup point guard for much of last season, he managed games well but often failed to elevate his teammates. Against OKC, he looked to score when the opportunities were there and moved the ball when they weren't.

Having him on the floor with the starting unit would draw a lot of pressure and attention from the defense and make things much easier for Hayward, Favors and Kanter.

And just imagine the mismatches a backcourt that goes 6'6" and 6'8" would create. Both Burks and Hayward have the size and length in combination with the guard skills to slide anywhere from the 1 to the 3 in a lineup.

They could punish traditionally sized backcourts inside.

That length would also come in handy while defending those smaller guards on the other end of the floor. We saw what Carter-Williams' long arms did for him defensively against the smaller Mario Chalmers as he swiped nine steals. Hayward similarly played Inspector Gadget with his arms against the Thunder, reaching into passing lanes for three steals.

His more traditional backcourt mates John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley struggled to contain 6'3" Reggie Jackson, and they shot a combined 2-of-10 from the field.

I'm not suggesting the combo of Burks and Hayward as a long-term, backcourt solution (though I don't think that's outside the realm of possibility), but it should at least be an option while Burke is out.

During a season that was never supposed to be a winning one anyway, coach Tyrone Corbin has an opportunity to play around with lineups. He may find that one featuring Burks and Hayward could be the most fun—and most effective.


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