Alec Burks was drafted 12th overall by the Utah Jazz in April's draft. The Jazz had two lottery picks in the draft, picking Enes Kanter third overall with their other pick. Just prior to the draft there was nearly a consensus the Jazz would take Kanter third overall, but there was a lot of speculation about the 12th.
Nearly everyone had an opinion about Jimmer Fredette being the selection, due to his playing college ball at nearby BYU, but he was taken 10th overall by the Kings. I personally was excited the Jazz did not end up with Jimmer as I believe he was destined to fail with such astronomical hype and expectations. I also felt other players on the board would have better careers than Jimmer.
One such player was Alec Burks. The biggest knock on Burks is his lack of a three-point shot. This is due to his 29 percent from a college three-point range. This number I believe is misleading. Burks only attempted 96 shots from deep. In comparison Jimmer shot over 300.
Burks simply did not have many attempts, thus skewing the numbers a bit. This does not mean that had he shot a higher number he suddenly would have had a good average, but the fact he did not settle for long jump shots is encouraging.
How many times do we watch an NBA game and hear the announcers talk about a particular player needing to take it to the hole instead of falling in love with the jump shot? Why then, when a player who has the mentality to take it to the hole and not jack up a bunch of threes suddenly gets lumped in as a bad shooter?
People love how Jimmer can make it from just over the half, but I personally do not want to see my team's shooting guard shooting it 10 feet behind the line—it is still only worth three points. I would much rather see him take his guy off the dribble and get an easy high percentage shot.
On top of it all, Burks shot a solid 82.5 percent from the free-throw line, showing he has good mechanics on his shot; he just needs the repetitions to hit from range more consistently.
Burks just needs to work on his range, as it appears he did in making five of six in the Almost NBA game played in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago.
Burks is an excellent ball handler who could even play point guard for short periods of time if needed. He can take his man off the dribble, is the prototypical size for a shooting guard at 6'6" with a wingspan of 6'10". With the current Jazz roster, he should see immediate playing time. I see Gordon Hayward playing more SF than SG. CJ Miles is inconsistent and Raja Bell was worthless last season—all leaving minutes for Burks to take.
The reason I could see Burks winning the Rookie of the Year is the lack of any clear-cut front-runners. I think going into the season Derrick Williams of Minnesota is the favorite simply because he comes in starting immediately while playing over 30 minutes a game. This gives the edge to Williams initially, but I see Williams struggling around the basket with his habit and need to jump off both feet. This gives the defenders extra time to get in position and disrupt the shot.
With Baron Davis still on the Cavs roster, it makes it difficult for Kyrie Irving to excel. And Jimmer may find it difficult to find enough shots to get his points while on the same court as DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
Another possibility is Burks' teammate Kanter. Kanter is a bit of an anomaly with his lack of consistent playing time the last couple years. If the Jazz trade away Al Jefferson and open up the center spot for Kanter, he could capitalize. Still, I just don't know what to expect from someone who sat out all of last season and needs a trade from the team to move up the depth chart.
Burks on the other hand I see starting off the season slow; maybe having a few games here and there where he scores double digits, but for the most part struggles with the speed of the NBA, just as most rookies do. As the season moves along I see him coming along, taking over the starting SG position and becoming a valuable part of the team.
Towards the end of the season it would not surprise me to see him become the playmaker of the team—driving to the hole and dishing it off to Derrick Favors for the dunk, or Hayward for the open three in the corner; feeding it to Kanter or Jefferson in the post and punishing teams if they double them with his ability to cut for the open layup (if Jefferson passes that ball that is).
Simply put, players who are able to drive to the basket are not only able to create their own shot, but create easy shots for teammates. Burk's ability to do just that can stand out in a weak rookie class and allow him to bring home the award.