When the Utah Jazz let both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk this past offseason, it was clear that the rebuilding process in Salt Lake City had begun. First task at hand: Find a solid player in the draft to build around.
So far this season, Trey Burke (acquired via trade in the 2013 draft) is proving to not only be a valuable piece to Utah's future plans but perhaps the most valuable piece. Focusing on this season alone, there is no question he's been the MVP.
How is a player who is averaging just 12.5 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting a franchise's MVP? It all boils down to one simple fact: The Jazz are a significantly better team with Burke on the floor.
Without Burke starting at point guard, the Jazz are 1-13. With him running the show, they're 18-20.
In a point guard-driven league, the Jazz have found a player capable of matching up with the league's best night in and night out. In fact, despite his less-than-stellar shooting percentage, Burke is doing one thing better than almost all of his adversaries: taking care of the basketball.
Burke's assist-to-turnover ratio currently sits at 2.84, good for 11th in the entire league per ESPN.
Compared to two other rookie guards, Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo, it is amazing how good Burke has been at limiting turnovers.
|Burke vs. Carter-Williams & Oladipo|
So, while guys like Derrick Favors and Alec Burks have had some great individual performances, and players like Gordon Hayward may have brighter futures, Trey Burke's smart play at the point guard spot has been more valuable than anything else for Utah this year.
Most nights, Trey is going to win the turnover battle against the opponent's point guard. The confidence boost that his teammates get from knowing that—especially considering how many young guys are on the Jazz roster—is irreplaceable.
You can teach guys how to be more consistent at the charity stripe. You can teach guys how to be better off-ball defenders. You can't teach guys to value the basketball the way that Burke does. That is a mentality that someone either has or doesn't have.
With plenty of pieces to surround him with, including a likely top-five pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz have to be ecstatic about Burke's future there. Not only is their young point guard proving to be a master at not turning the ball over, but it appears that his approach has had an impact on his teammates as well.
There are very few statistics more indicative of the outcome of an NBA basketball game than the turnover margin, and thanks to Trey Burke, the Utah Jazz have the opportunity to continue winning the turnover battle for years to come.
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