Before Trey Burke made his pro debut the ROY raced looked like it was already going be a two way battle between Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo. Nine games in, and it looks like Trey Burke has thrown his hat into the race as well. This is a good thing for a few reasons. One it looks like this past draft has produced at least 4 competent players (MCW, Oladipo, Adams, and Burke) and one ultra intriguing Greek Freak (Antetokounmpo). Second Ben McLemore just won Rookie of the Month in the Western Conference after posting 8.8 points .9 assists 2.7 rebounds per game with a 37.1/33.9/82.6 slash line. So giving him Rookie of the Month honors is kind of like saying Fox’s Dads (The terrible show with Seth Green and Giovani Ribisi) is the best new comedy on Thursday at 9 PM for males 18-30 that live in Santa Fe. With Burke there is now someone to compete with McLemore, and most likely knock him off the top of rookie hill west for the next five months.
Through 9 games this season Burke is averaging 12 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 turnover in 26.2 minutes per game to go with a 39.1/40.6/81.8 slash line. Very admirable numbers for a rookie point guard in the NBA. Extend his minutes out to starters minutes and his stats would be 16.5 points 5 assists 4 rebounds and 1.5 turnovers per 36 minutes. Those numbers would already put him ahead of at least 7 other starting point guards in the league. So it’s fair to say he is off to a pretty good start. The one part of his game in college that hasn’t translated over yet (again it’s only nine games) to his pro game has been getting to the line. Last year at Michigan (The school that lost again to OSU last week in football) Burke was getting 3.7 attempts per 36 minutes. Through 9 games of his NBA career he’s only getting there 1.7 times per 36 minutes. This will change as the season goes on.
Where the effect of Burke’s play has been most apparent is on the team’s stat sheet. Through their first 12 games the Jazz were 1-11 with a 41.2% FG%, a 29% 3FG%, while averaging 17.7 assists, 18.1 turnovers, and 88.6 points per game. Since Burke has been plugged into the lineup those numbers have all gone in the right direction. The Jazz’s record over their last nine has been 3-6, while seeing their field goal percentage (45.5%) 3 point field goal percentage (37.2%) assists (21.9) and points (95.4) all go up and their turnovers per game drop to 15.1. With Burke on the court the Jazz are averaging 104 points per 100 offensive possessions and 93.8 with him off the floor. We can eve confirm Burke’s positive influence to a degree by the fact that he is already tied for the team lead in Usage Rate (The percentage of a team’s offensive possessions a player uses while on the court) with Gordon Hayward at 24.7%, meaning he’s been very involved during the Jazz’s improved play. Everyone believed the Jazz would get better after their horrific start, but if Burke continues his solid play he might play them right out of the Parker/Wiggins/Randle/Exum/Smart sweepstakes. So if there is some late season knee soreness (like MCW had last night) I wouldn’t be too alarmed if I was a Jazz fan.
But what’s most important, we wouldn’t have this precious photo of Burke and a chubby jheri-curled Jared Sullinger playing Playstation if Burke wasn’t an awesome individual.