Salt City Hoops » Trey Burke http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Trey Burke http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com/category/players/trey-burke/ Trey Burke Video Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-scouting-report/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:21:43 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12571 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak - NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak – NBAE via Getty Images

After the expected departures of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap during the 2013 offseason, it was apparent that the Jazz were in the midst of an extended rebuilding period. While that chapter of the franchise was on the verge of beginning, they already had some key, young pieces that were set to become the pillars for the future of the team. Those names included a slew of former top 10 picks(Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors), who would to be looked upon to step up as leaders of an organization. However, in that same summer, that trio was met with a new partner, as they were joined by former Michigan guard Trey Burke.

By being the team’s first real young point guard since Deron Williams, the fanbase’s attention was immediately transfixed to the Michigan alum. Though before he was able to make his much-anticipated Jazz debut, Burke ran into a minor road block by suffering a bone fracture in his right index finger, which held him out for the first few weeks of the season.

Following his recovery and subsequent Jazz debut, it took a while for Burke to showcase those skills that pushed him to being the top point guard prospect in that years’ draft. Another aspect holding him was the fact that he was inserted into that starting role without getting a chance to develop chemistry with his new teammates.

As the season started to progress, it was apparent that Burke was starting to become more comfortable with the NBA pace and his role with team. As that comfort level started to increase, so did his chemistry with Utah’s first unit, as he developed an extremely solid pick and roll connection with Derrick Favors. During their first season together, that Favors and Burke duo successfully connected 67 times, which is bound to improve during the upcoming season.

Besides his chemistry with Favors, Burke was able to showcase himself as an extremely solid and efficient distributor. By utilizing that previously mentioned pick and roll connection with Favors, Burke was easily able to penetrate from the perimeter to open up a bevy of different possibilities. One of those potential options included making his way towards the paint to ultimately kick it out to one of his Jazz teammates on the perimeter. That effective playmaking ability was showcased by the fact that Burke had an extremely solid 3.02 Ast/TO ratio, which exceeded the likes of Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio.

Apart from his continued improvement as an excellent distributor, Burke wasn’t able to maintain any level of consistency on the offensive end. While he has been able to showcase an ability to score from  most spots on the court, Burke wasn’t really able to get into a rhythm because of the previously mentioned injury on his shooting hand. Even when he was able to use Favors’ pick-and-rolls to help create some open mid-range or perimeter shots, he just struggled to consistently knock them down. That lack of consistency is showcased by his extremely pedestrian 47.3% true shooting percentage, lowest among the players that were consistently in Utah’s rotation.

With the transition to his sophomore season, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see those offensive woes subside. While he struggled to consistently score, Burke showcased a certain amount of comfort in his offensive movements. He rarely looked over aggressive or tentative with the ball in his hands, a rarity for a rookie.

Transitioning over to the defensive end, Burke was the definition of a mixed bag. While he was consistently able to move swiftly on offense, Burke always appeared to be a step or two behind the opposition. Perhaps the main example of that are his struggles with defending the pick-and-roll. In those sets, Burke consistently looked tentative about whether to work over or under the offensive screen. As he gets more accustomed to defending NBA offenses, it should be expected to see those issues diminish, even though he’ll probably never be perfect.
When he’s in man-to-man scenarios, Burke has the appearance of being a solid and focused defender. Even though there are instances where quicker opponents are able to drive past him, Burke is consistently able to be in an ideal position, temporarily hiding those previously mentioned flaws.

As Burke looks to start his 2nd NBA season, there are some questions regarding his future with the team, after Utah selected Aussie point guard Dante Exum with their 8th overall pick. While it’s likely that the rookie guard will initially have a major role inside Utah’s rotation, because of Exum’s unique 6’5 frame, head coach Quin Snyder should be able to find a way to creatively combine Burke with the rookie.

Besides the previously mentioned concerns regarding his fit with Exum, the sophomore season of Trey Burke is going to be an extremely intriguing. While Burke’s skills as a facilitator will beimportant to the future of the players that surround him, he’s going to have become a more consistent offensive threat. Even though that consistency wasn’t showcased during his rookie campaign, Burke is going to be entering the upcoming season 100% healthy, a huge improvement over how he started his rookie season.

While there are a handful of clear flaws in Burke’s game that should diminish as he starts the upcoming season, the influence that he has on the future of the Jazz organization is massive. With Burke entering training camp at full strength, he’ll able to establish that necessary chemistry with his Utah teammates. That combination of team chemistry and Burke’s natural passing instincts should be one of the most intriguing things to watch for as we move closer to the upcoming season.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Focusing on FTr: Alec Burks and Trey Burke http://saltcityhoops.com/focusing-on-ftr-alec-burks-and-trey-burke/ http://saltcityhoops.com/focusing-on-ftr-alec-burks-and-trey-burke/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:30:48 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12363 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Rocky Widner - NBAE via Getty Images

Rocky Widner – NBAE via Getty Images

I was looking at some stats for the team, and what stood out to me was the discrepancy between Trey Burke’s free-throw rate (.126) and Alec Burks’ (.449). Burks has a FTr better than 3.5x that of Burke’s. I don’t mean to harp on Burke entirely on this one, but I think noticing the discrepancy illustrates both what makes Alec Burks unique—and potentially elite in one area—and how improvement in this area could elevate a young-and-improving Trey Burke from a below-average starting point guard (according to Hollinger’s PER ratings, he’s 52 of 71) to what could be an average to above-average starting point guard.

 

Rk Player Age MP PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% TOV% USG%
1 Gordon Hayward 23 2800 16.2 .520 .454 .369 .271 2.5 14.0 8.0 24.1 2.1 15.0 23.1
2 Trey Burke 21 2262 12.6 .473 .442 .126 .375 1.8 9.0 5.3 29.4 1.0 12.2 21.8
3 Richard Jefferson 33 2213 11.8 .573 .544 .248 .460 0.9 10.8 5.7 9.6 1.3 11.5 16.9
4 Derrick Favors 22 2201 19.0 .556 .522 .380 .001 10.1 23.7 16.7 7.3 1.8 12.9 20.8
5 Alec Burks 22 2193 15.8 .547 .487 .449 .172 3.0 10.7 6.8 16.9 1.7 13.0 23.9
6 Enes Kanter 21 2138 15.6 .523 .491 .239 .001 11.6 20.9 16.1 6.4 0.7 13.3 23.3
7 Marvin Williams 27 1674 14.0 .540 .519 .139 .445 5.5 17.9 11.5 7.7 1.7 8.7 16.7
8 Jeremy Evans 26 1209 16.2 .549 .527 .226 .006 11.1 18.7 14.8 6.1 1.8 9.9 15.3
9 Diante Garrett 25 1048 7.1 .459 .449 .045 .362 1.2 9.8 5.3 17.6 2.1 21.7 15.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2014.

 

So let’s look at some numbers and comparisons and see where each player stands.

One of the things that was so tantalizing about Alec Burks’ game his rookie season was his ability to get to the line—a skill very few rookies have to that degree. His FTr in his first season was .401, which was third on the team that year behind Enes Kanter (.445) and Derrick Favors (.436).

 

Season Age Tm Lg Pos G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr
2011-12 20 UTA NBA SG 59 939 14.0 .506 .450 .401
2012-13 21 UTA NBA SG 64 1137 11.5 .507 .463 .332
2013-14 22 UTA NBA SG 78 2193 15.8 .547 .487 .449
Career NBA 201 4269 14.2 .528 .473 .409
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/29/2014.

 

How did that FTr compare to other rookies in previous years? I was curious what superstars had as their FTr their rookie seasons: Burks’ .401 FTr was higher than Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James. Of the superstars I looked through, only Kevin Love had a higher FTr than Alec Burks in his rookie season.

 

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr
1 Carmelo Anthony 2003-04 19 82 2995 17.6 .509 .449 .358
2 Alec Burks 2011-12 20 59 939 14.0 .506 .450 .401
3 Anthony Davis 2012-13 19 64 1846 21.7 .559 .516 .333
4 Kevin Durant 2007-08 19 80 2768 15.8 .519 .451 .328
5 LeBron James 2003-04 19 79 3122 18.3 .488 .438 .308
6 Kevin Love 2008-09 20 81 2048 18.3 .538 .461 .488
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2014.

 

Interestingly, Burks’ FTr dipped to a mere-mortal .332 in his sophomore season, possibly because opposing teams knew more what to expect, and also possibly because he was sometimes tasked at the PG position.  But that doesn’t explain how he was able to increase his FTr in his third season to an incredible .449. Given the improvement he made in his game last season, I’m intrigued to see what his FTr will be in 2014. With a new-and-improved offensive system and better spacing, will Burks be given the green line to attack the rim with reckless abandon? Burks has an elite skill in his ability to get to the line; what if he became the best in league in that area?

So what about Trey Burke? He had a very solid season for a rookie point guard, especially considering he broke his index finger in the preseason. We saw how much better the team was with him running the show instead of JLIII or Tinsley. We saw how careful he was with the ball (very low turnover rate). We saw how clutch he could be. But looking at his stats, his FTr is incredibly low. If he were a poor free-throw shooter, that might be a more understandable statistic, but given that he shot 90.3% from the line last year, why not attack the basket a bit more and make the opposing team pay for it by sinking the free throws?

 

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr
1 Trey Burke 2013-14 21 70 2262 12.6 .473 .442 .126 .375
2 Stephen Curry 2013-14 25 78 2846 24.1 .610 .566 .252 .445
3 Goran Dragic 2013-14 27 76 2668 21.4 .604 .561 .381 .274
4 Tony Parker 2013-14 31 68 1997 18.9 .555 .513 .266 .073
5 Chris Paul 2013-14 28 62 2171 25.9 .580 .511 .397 .244
6 Russell Westbrook 2013-14 25 46 1412 24.7 .545 .480 .370 .271
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/29/2014.

 

Admittedly, the numbers above compare Trey’s rookie season numbers to star point guard’s numbers. But I think it’s instructive to show how much an increase in FTr and TS% (which will be bumped up by an increased FTr assuming his FT% stays stellar) could go a long way in helping Trey become a much better point guard. Chris Paul, someone to whom Trey was (unfairly) compared before entering the league, has a similar build and speed to Trey, but has learned how to use his body, how to use angles, and how to use his craftiness in order to get to the line, at more than three times the rate as Burke. Steph Curry has a FTr exactly twice that of Burke, while shooting almost nearly as well from the line (88.5%). What’s impressive about that is Curry takes nearly eight three pointers a game; he spends a lot of his time outside the arc, yet still gets to the line a decent amount. Dragic also went to the line at a rate three times that of Burke, which also helped contribute to his excellent TS% (60.4%). Of the star point guards here, Tony Parker had the lowest FTr at .266, which is still more than twice that of Trey’s. Russell Westbrook, considered a top point guard by Hollinger’s PER, had a FTr nearly three times that of Burke.

This is one area in which Trey could improve pretty quickly and fairly easily. He has the handle, he has enough speed and a quick-enough first step; I’ll be interested if he can develop a craftiness and some hesitation moves, a la Chris Paul, that enable to him to throw defenders off just a split second, enough to get them to foul him. Even though it’s nitpicking one stat, I think it’s one stat which, if improved, can dramatically improve other areas of his game. And with a new coach and a new offensive system, I think it’s very possible.

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Trey Burke Comparisons: Mo Williams? Others? http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-comparisons-mo-williams-others/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-comparisons-mo-williams-others/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:55:55 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12140 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak - NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak – NBAE via Getty Images

Before Trey Burke was drafted, experts had a few comparisons lined up: Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, and Ty Lawson. Now that Trey’s got one season under his belt, I’m starting to wonder if another comparison might be a bit closer to the mark: Mo Williams. In discussing this comparison with a fellow Jazz fan this last week, he suggested a few other names that he hopes are closer to Burke’s ceiling: Mario Chalmers, Tony Parker, and Derek Fisher. So I was curious and wanted to figure out if the numbers from any of their rookie years would tell us anything, or if improvements from year 1 to year 2 for each of those players might help us predict some of the trajectory we might see for Burke this next year.

Here’s part of my theory behind the Mo Williams comparison (and you can decide if you agree or if you think I’m way off base or somewhere in between): undersized point guard, deceptively quick, good three-point shooter, poor shooter overall, shoots too much at times, decent passer.

Mo Williams is 6’1” 185, while Burke is 6’0” and 190. Burke’s reach does help him a bit here, but in a league where taller, stronger point guards—Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Goran Dragic, and Damian Lillard are all 6’3” or 6’4”—are becoming part of the recipe for success, a shorter point guard can be at a disadvantage offensively and defensively. The other area in which Burke and Williams were similar in their rookie season was in that of FG%: 38.0%. Because Burke was a decent three-point shooter—and took quite a few threes per game—his eFG% was 44.2% last year, while Mo’s was 39.6% in his rookie season. Even though Burke shot very well from the free-throw line—90.3%—because he went to the line so rarely (a FTr of .126), his TS% wasn’t much higher than his eFG% at 47.3%, though that was still higher than Mo’s TS% of 43.3% his rookie season. Burke and Williams had similar rebounding numbers per 36 minutes (3.3 and 3.4, respectively), and similar FGA/36 minutes (14.3 and 14.1, respectively), those FGA/36 numbers are significantly higher than the other three PG in this analysis.

So, bringing the other three names into the mix, what were some numbers that jumped out?

Player Per 36 Minutes Season Age G MP FGA FG% 3PA 3P% 2PA 2P% FTA FT% TRB AST STL TOV PTS
Trey Burke 2013-14 21 70 2262 14.3 .380 5.3 .330 8.9 .410 1.8 .903 3.3 6.3 0.7 2.1 14.2
Mario Chalmers 2008-09 22 82 2626 9.1 .420 4.3 .367 4.8 .467 2.6 .767 3.1 5.5 2.2 2.3 11.2
Derek Fisher 1996-97 22 80 921 10.2 .397 2.9 .301 7.4 .434 4.7 .658 3.8 4.7 1.6 2.8 12.1
Tony Parker 2001-02 19 77 2267 10.1 .419 3.0 .323 7.1 .460 2.5 .675 3.1 5.3 1.4 2.4 11.2
Mo Williams 2003-04 21 57 772 14.1 .380 1.8 .256 12.3 .398 2.6 .786 3.4 3.5 1.3 2.4 13.2
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/8/2014.

Burke is the shortest of the five at 6’0”. Tony Parker is 6’2” and the others are 6’1”. Fisher is 200, Chalmers is 190, Mo is 185, Parker is 180, and Burke is 190.

Chalmers and Parker were the only ones who had similar MPG in their rookie seasons as Trey Burke. Burke was at 32.3 and Chalmers was 32.0 while Parker was at 29.4. Mo Williams and Derek Fisher were at 13.5 and 11.5, respectively.

Burke had the lowest FG% of the bunch in his rookie season (tied for the lowest among the five with Mo Williams, as already discussed) at 38.0%. His TS% was second-lowest of the bunch (.473, vs. .433 for Mo Williams, and .548 for Mario Chalmers), and his eFG% was right in the middle of the five, given that his 3P% is decent, but his TS% drops because his FTr is the lowest of the five at .126 (Fisher had the highest FTr as a rookie at .458. .458!)

Burke had the second-highest 3P% of those five players as rookies, at 33% (vs. 36.7% for Chalmers).

Burke had the highest FT% by far in his rookie season, at an incredible 90.3%.

He had the highest per-game assist totals, as well as the highest per-36-minute assist totals (5.7 and 6.3).

He had the lowest steal average per 36 minutes of the group (0.7).

Also lowest turnover rate per 36 minutes (2.1).

Second highest usage rate of the five guys (Mo Williams was first).

Burke had the worst defensive rating of the five, while also having the second-best offensive rating.

So, what did I learn looking over these numbers? One thing that stood out to me was that, in three of the four cases of those other point guards, the FG% significantly increased in the second season. Mo Williams jumped from 38.0% to 43.8% (eFG% from 39.6% to 46.0%; TS% from 43.3% to 50.4%). Tony Parker increased from 41.9% to 46.4% (eFG% from 46.7% to 50.3%; TS% from 49.7% to 54.2%). Derek Fisher improved from 39.7% to 43.4% (eFG% from 43.9% to 47.5%; TS% from 49.1% to 53.3%). Only Mario Chalmers decreased his FG% from year 1 to year 2: 42.0% to 40.1% (eFG% 50.6% to 48.3%; TS% from 54.8% to 51.9%). Interestingly, Parker and Fisher saw decreases in those percentages in their third season, but Mo Williams saw improvements there in his third season.

Considering shooting percentage was an area in which Burke really struggled his rookie season, I’m encouraged by the fact that (potentially) similar players saw marked improvements in that area after the rookie campaign.

 

Who would be your comp for Trey Burke? What do you see as his ceiling?

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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On Trey Burke’s Struggles Defensively http://saltcityhoops.com/on-trey-burkes-struggles-defensively/ http://saltcityhoops.com/on-trey-burkes-struggles-defensively/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:49:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11021 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Coming out of Michigan after a triumphant final college season that saw him capture not only a national title but also the country’s most prestigious individual awards, Jazz point guard Trey Burke fell into something of a mix of categories among draft evaluators: not quite in the Jimmer/Tyler Hansborough mold (ridiculous college players who swept national awards but many thought would have far less impact in the pros), but also certainly nowhere close to the sure-thing status of other Wooden Award winners like Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant.

Rather, there seemed to be a tad less decisiveness surrounding Burke, and opinions of him appeared to follow more of a bell curve than most potential lottery picks – highly likely to become a useful, slightly above-average NBA player, but also highly unlikely to vastly over-perform or under-perform on that general outlook given his skill set.

A big part of this assessment had to do with his potential ceiling as an NBA defender, an area folks had concerns about for several reasons we’ll get into shortly.  And whether or not you agreed at the time, the first season of returns seems to indicate that these folks were certainly on to something: of 125 rotation guards in the league this season, Burke ranks dead last in Defensive Rating (points against per-100-possessions while a player is on the court) according to NBA.com.  The Jazz have been nearly five points-per-100 better when he leaves the court, the largest drop-off for any regular rotation player on the team besides Enes Kanter.

The reasons for this are varied, with some tying back in to his pre-draft forecast.  Burke isn’t particularly quick or explosive for his position, and in fact is likely well below-average for many athleticism-related areas at a position littered with names like Westbrook, Wall, Irving and many more.  He’s also a tad short, though his slightly extended wingspan makes up for some of that.

This predictably hurts his abilities as an on-ball defender, though surprisingly not nearly as much as one might think, especially if one were to only look at his defensive numbers in a client like Synergy Sports – over a small sample size, Burke reads out as a very bad isolation defender on finished plays.  But an examination of the individual plays involved showcases much of this data as somewhat spurious, a series of difficult makes and questionable foul calls against Burke (and, to be fair, a percentage of plays where Trey simply got beat) that’s completely unsustainable over a long time period.  He plays above-average on-ball defense on this play, but all that gets recorded is a made basket against him after his mark converts a tough look:

Instead, the area that’s been hurt most by Burke’s physical limitations is his play off the ball.  He’s going through many of the predictable struggles young guards face, but he’s without the recovery speed many of his peers can look to when they make an error.  So when he has trouble navigating a pick, as he and many rookies are prone to, it’s hurting his team’s defense more than average.  Rotate incorrectly?  It’s going to cost him more than many.  There’s even an excellent example of the differences here showcased by another Jazz player (one with a very similar name) – I’ve documented Alec Burks’ tendency, in contrast to most young defenders, to over-help rather than under-help off the ball, and Burke often displays the same habit:

Just like with Burks, there are both good and bad elements at play here; that Trey is focused and eager to try and execute the defensive system is great for his age and experience, but the fact that it combines with his as-of-yet incomplete knowledge of NBA offense to create frequent mistakes like the one above is obviously a big negative.  And unlike Burks, who has the acceleration and foot speed to recover more quickly, Burke finds himself often unable to even get up challenges in situations like these.

This can explain some of why Burke, and his teammates while he’s on the floor, give up far too many good looks from deep.  Opponents are shooting 38.3% from distance with Burke as their primary defender, per Synergy, an unacceptable number, and are attempting more of them with Burke on the floor than any other Jazz regular.  Utah allows the third-highest percentage from three in the league partially as a result of their porousness in this area with Burke and the starting lineup.

Unfortunately, the issues for Burke thus far haven’t been limited to his physical abilities.  He’s also having difficulty grasping the nuances of NBA defense, though he’s got much more company among his peers here.  He’s had a very hard time jumping passing lanes or generating steals, something of a surprise for such a heady player offensively.  Of those same 125 qualified guards I mentioned earlier, he’s just 101st in steals generated per game despite being in the top 40 for minutes per night.  The Jazz also generate a lower number of turnovers per-possession with him on the floor than any other roster member besides Malcolm Thomas.

Screen navigation has been a problem, albeit an expected one, and the same goes for certain bits of positioning, both on and off the ball.  Watch him here leaning in anticipation of a coming screen (again, this awareness is good in a vacuum but can become negative in situations where it’s acted on the wrong way), but instead giving up an open look:

Given that Burke still got a hand up to pseudo-challenge the shot, it seems like a pretty small nitpick – and it is.  But it’s meant to illustrate the subtle differences between good defense and porous defense, because the extra half-beat Burke gives up by switching to his “ice” stance makes all the difference here.

Perhaps the largest knock on his defensive acumen in his first season, though, has been another issue we can examine within that last clip: his recognition of opposing personnel.  In the play above, Burke’s mark is Brandon Jennings – not a sharpshooter from distance necessarily, but capable and not someone you want to leave unguarded.  But far more importantly, Burke overlooks one major element: Jennings is left-handed.  Against a typical righty, Burke’s jump to his “ice” stance might have left him enough space to challenge, but against a lefty going to his left in rhythm?  He has no chance.

This is again a nitpicky example, but far larger ones abound.  And while many of these sorts of mental errors are quite understandable for developing players without much NBA experience, a little more worrying has been Burke’s seeming lack of improvement in this area as the year has gone on.  This clip is from this past weekend against the Warriors:

There aren’t many unbreakable rules within NBA defense, but one of them absolutely is, “Never go under a screen against Steph Curry unless he’s at least 40 feet from the basket.”  This lack of recognition from Burke, particularly since he could see the screen coming for several beats before it arrived and therefore had plenty of time to prepare, simply won’t fly beyond this season.  Coaches can’t teach every little thing, and this is one of those areas where players are expected to develop on their own or risk being left behind.

Overall though, while there are certainly several areas that will need major improvement for Burke to be an acceptable defender in this league, he’s not in the dire shape his overall numbers might indicate.  Utah’s defense as a whole has been miserable, and this contributes in no small way to his bad rating – it’s highly unlikely he’s really the worst rotation guard in the league on defense.  He’s done well with his on-ball positioning and has improved at staying in front of his man as the year has gone on, and he should be capable of cracking average or even nicely above-average if he can continue to improve.

This is mostly conjecture, but to my eye he’s looked timid at many points this year, like he doesn’t want to screw up or go out-of-system – if this is the case, it’s an easy fix for a coaching staff going forward.  Burke is smart and has great character, and this should foster a resolution to many of his issues once he gains more experience and confidence (and hopefully is able to play in a slightly better defensive culture) going forward.  This season may be nearly over, but a long and productive career is only getting started for the young Jazz point guard.  It’ll be exciting to see where he’s able to go.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Should Trey Burke Shoot Less? http://saltcityhoops.com/should-trey-burke-shoot-less/ http://saltcityhoops.com/should-trey-burke-shoot-less/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:49:34 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10529 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

In the 41 games since Trey Burke has been a starter, the Jazz are 19-22, for a 46% winning percentage. That’s obviously a significant increase over the Jazz’s record when Burke was injured. But as we’ve been hearing about Burke’s shooting slump over the last couple of months, I wanted to see if there was a pattern of his field goal attempts versus his teammates’ field goal attempts and the Jazz’s record. How good can a team be when a point guard—one who doesn’t shoot particularly well—is second on the team in field goal attempts?

So, to break it down, I looked at how many games in those 41 games did Burke lead the Jazz in field goal attempts? How many games was he second, or third, or fourth in field goal attempts? And what’s the Jazz’s record in each of those categories?

Led the team in FGA: 17 times; record 8-9

Second on the team in FGA: 9 times; record 3-6

Third on the team in FGA: 7 times; record 5-2

Fourth or lower on the team in FGA: 8 times; record 3-5

I’m not the statistician that Andy or other writers on SCH are, but I think even this small sample size can show us something. We’re a decent, nearly .500 team when Trey Burke is on the floor, even when he leads the team in FGA. But are we a better team when he defers to teammates and puts them in a position to take more of the team’s shots? I think we are.

Looking at other teams and their shot distribution among their starters, how do they distribute their shots among the starters? For teams with a .600 winning percentage, where does their starting point guard rank on FGA? (stats are through Sunday night’s games)

Indiana (.764): George Hill is 5th on the team in FGA at 8.3, behind Paul George (17.5), David West (11.7), Lance Stephenson (11.4), Roy Hibbert (9.5).

Oklahoma City (.754): Russell Westbrook, when he’s been healthy, has ranked second on the team in FGA at 17.5 behind Kevin Durant (20.5), and ahead of Serge Ibaka (12.2) and sometimes-starting PG Reggie Jackson (12.2).

Miami (.741): Mario Chalmers is 4th (by .1) on the team in FGA at 7.3, behind LeBron James (17.2), Dwayne Wade (14.1), Chris Bosh (12.3), and ahead of Ray Allen who’s at 7.2.

San Antonio (.714): Tony Parker leads the team in FGA at 14.0, followed by Tim Duncan (12.6), Kawhi Leonard (9.4), Manu Ginobili (9.1), Marco Belinelli (8.8), and Patty Mills (7.9) for what is perhaps the most balanced distribution among the top teams in the league.

Houston (.679): Jeremy Lin is 4th (also by .1) on the team in FGA at 9.4 behind James Harden (16.3), Chandler Parsons (13.1), and Dwight Howard (11.7), and just ahead of Terrence Jones (9.3).

Los Angeles Clippers (.655): Chris Paul has been battling some injuries this year, but when he’s healthy, he’s third on the team in FGA at 14.0, behind Blake Griffin (16.9) and Jamal Crawford (14.9). Behind Paul is J.J. Reddick (11.7) and Paul’s backup (and sometimes starter) Darren Collison at 7.6.

Portland (.679): Damian Lillard is second on the Blazers in FGA with 16.1 per game, behind LeMarcus Aldridge (21.0) and ahead of Wesley Matthews (12.5), Nicolas Batum (9.8), and Mo Williams (9.0).

Golden State (.607): Stephen Curry leads the Warriors in FGA with 18.1 per game, followed by Klay Thompson (15.7), David Lee (14.8), Harrison Barnes (9.1) and Andre Iguodala (7.5).

Phoenix (.600): Goran Dragic leads the Suns in FGA, as well, at 14.1 per game, but Phoenix also has a pretty balanced attack. Following Dragic is Eric Bledsoe (when healthy, at 13.0), Gerald Green (11.8), Channing Frye (10.1), Markieff Morris (10.0), and Marcus Morris (8.1).

Utah (.345): Trey Burke is second on the Jazz in FGA with 13.0 behind Gordon Hayward (13.8) and ahead of Alec Burks (10.7), Enes Kanter (10.3), Derrick Favors (10.2), Marvin Williams (8.5) and Richard Jefferson (7.9).

I realize I’m comparing a rookie to mostly very veteran, very solid players here, but I think the point still remains: in order for Burke to be a great point guard in this league, he either needs to drastically increase his shooting percentages, and/or he needs to decrease the number of shots he takes. Because the point guards for the top teams in the league, if they shoot a lot, have a very good shooting percentage, or they defer to teammates who are better shooters or shotmakers (as Jerry Sloan used to call them). If you look at the point guards on the top teams in the league, their eFG% and TS% are significantly higher than Trey’s, especially if they’re the leading their team in FGA.

Stats through Sunday night's games

Stats through Sunday night’s games

The three point guards who attempt the most field goals on their team—Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, and Goran Dragic—all have a TS% of at least .560, with Dragic the highest at .610. They shoot the three and get to the line well enough to pull their TS% up to very good numbers. This will need to be one of the next steps for Trey for the Jazz to become a much better team. His free-throw rate, specifically, offers a lot of room for improvement: of the regular rotation players on the Jazz, Burke has the lowest free-throw rate at .120 (behind Marvin Williams at .129). In comparison, Alec Burks is at .443 and Gordon Hayward is at .331. With improvement in that area, Burke could be a lot more effective. When it comes to FG%, Burke is ranked last by ESPN in FG% among qualified point guards and is second to last in adjusted field goal percentage. Improvement in this area could lead to a much more effective, efficient Trey Burke, and a much better Jazz team.

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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On the Basketball IQ of 21-Year-Olds http://saltcityhoops.com/youth_syllogism/ http://saltcityhoops.com/youth_syllogism/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 18:39:36 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10267 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Basketball, it turns out, is complicated.

I mean, there’s a more simplistic, linear way to approach it, but in the NBA, that route hardly ever makes you very good. Reaching a special level (see: San Antonio Spurs) requires developing a mental reaction time that turns every one of your opponent’s decisions into a sucker’s choice — which of us would you like to allow to take a wide open shot?

Not every NBA player understands the game at that level and at full game speed. And because of a lot of the ones who haven’t mastered that yet are younger than those who have, we tend to fall for this tempting (but faulty) syllogism that youth is equivalent to a lack of understanding of the game’s intricacies.

It’s a convenient bit of shorthand. It can be a mouthful to say that a team’s offense/defense struggles because it relies on players who haven’t yet learned to read the slew of variables that can influence a single 4-second span of basketball. So we take a shortcut: they struggle because of their “youth.”

But “unready” is not the same as “young.” Plenty of experienced guys play a far less cerebral game, and plenty of youngsters quickly learn how to make reads at NBA game speed. Jazz rookie Trey Burke was recently singled out in a nice feature by ESPN’s David Thorpe, who marveled at how quickly the point guard is recognizing situations and learning to exploit split-second decisions.

“[Burke's] basketball IQ and his pace of play are far more like a veteran’s,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe cites a particular play as evidence of Burke’s ahead-of-his-time ability to calculate multiple variables and make the right decisions. It’s a play where everybody on the floor has to know what the others are thinking and doing. You can (and should) read Thorpe’s whole breakdown of this play and Burke’s rookie year. The Reader’s Digest version of this graphic is that Burke reads a hard hedge by Wall and goes away from the pick to the left, forcing Gortat to trap. Derrick Favors recognizes this and dives to the lane, pulling Nene from the right corner. Marvin Williams sees all that and decides to float out to the elbow to give Burke a passing angle. All of this is happening at the same time, but Burke is able to keep track of it and anticipate each movement, so Marv winds up with an open three.

0205posta

Thorpe rightly gives a lot of credit to Burke. Here’s an excerpt:

The key for Burke is to force Nene to help on Favors by waiting for him to get near the rim, all while making Gortat defend the ball. If Burke fails, Gortat will be able to defend both Burke and Favors, allowing Nene to stay with Williams… It’s the kind of play that veterans make frequently, as it requires the point guard to read multiple players, which is something most rookies aren’t accustomed to doing.

He’s right, of course, but what strikes me about this play is that it’s not just Burke. All five guys had to make those same reads simultaneously. Successful offensive combinations are groups where five guys can all read and react on the same page. Consider this:

  • If Burke doesn’t understand Wall’s intention in jumping the screen, then he doesn’t cut away from the pick and force Gortat’s help.
  • If Favors doesn’t cut (or goes too quickly, too late, or too close to Burke) then there’s no need for Nene to come in.
  • If Marvin doesn’t see his man helping and understand the angle Burke needs for the pass, then instead you wind up with Burke and Favors executing a 2-on-3 in the paint.
  • It’s also worth mentioning that Burks and Hayward have to recognize what the other three are up to and not impatiently do anything to compromise spacing or let those corner guys help.

If four of the players understand and are on the same page but the fifth isn’t, the play breaks down. Luckily, this time they all got it, including the guy with the ball.

And luckily, nobody checked his driver’s license to make sure he was old enough to make such a heady play.

That’s because it’s about the process, not the age. Enes Kanter has six months on Burke (and more NBA burn) yet still requires an extra half second to make far simpler reads than the one described above. And that’s OK, because that’s the normal learning curve for 21-year-olds in the NBA.

Same goes for Rudy Gobert, who is the same age as Burke and Kanter. While he gets a lot of just credit for good defensive instincts, he can struggle to defend within a team construct. He sometimes makes defensive decisions that look like good pickup-game gambles, but that his teammates weren’t expecting, throwing off the whole strategy. Case in point: against the Warriors, Gobert was a defensive pest early, helping limit the Dubs to just 14 points in his nine first-half minutes. In the second half… not so much.

In fact, Gobert had three straight defensive flubs in the fourth quarter that allowed Golden State to erase Utah’s lead. First, there were back-to-back plays where Rudy, the screener’s man on both plays, drops back from the pick and gives Steph Curry way too much daylight to shoot. Both these plays resulted in Curry threes as Burke fought over the screen, fully expecting a hard show.

Curry 3 #1:

0205postb

Curry 3 #2:

0205postc

Then, on the next play down, Gobert got caught ball watching 15′ out while Bogut tiptoed around him for a layup to make it 79-77. That’s eight Warriors points that we can trace back to this extremely talented and unquestionably well-meaning guy… who just hasn’t learned yet how team defense works.

I point to these three guys because they’re all within a few months of each other in age, so obviously the variable that differentiates their decision-making has nothing to do with youth. Even after a decade of talking to NBA types on a regular basis, I have yet to find a single coach, GM or scout who hates young players. I have met several, though, who prefer to use players they can rely on to make the right basketball play, even when faced by an ever-changing set of variables. Most field teams of guys they can trust to do just that, even, in some cases, at the expense of someone more talented.

That’s why, if I’m a young NBA player, I’d be in a hurry to shed the pejorative connotations of “youth” and make it clear I’m ready to pick apart defenses with my brain AND my body. I’d be studying tape, asking questions all the time, and preparing thoroughly for each opponent.

I’d do what Trey Burke is doing: making people forget his age.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Trey Burke, Plus/Minus Rookie Leader http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-plusminus-rookie-leader/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-plusminus-rookie-leader/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:01:22 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10047 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Because Adjusted Plus-Minus (APM; full description here) is a metric designed to track the actual scoreboard impact of individual players, it has some tendencies that aren’t shared by other common player evaluation metrics.  One of these, as one would expect, is that it tends to favor players on successful teams – which is something of a chicken-and-egg situation, since of course the highest-ranked players for a scoreboard-related metric will play for teams that tend to do well on said scoreboard.  Indeed, of the recently-released 2014 rankings’ top-25 overall players, only seven play for sub-.500 teams – and three of those play for teams that are either in the playoffs (Brooklyn, Washington) or are just a single game under .500 in a much tougher conference (Minnesota).

There are outliers, because obviously APM isn’t based only on a team’s win-loss record.  And often, these outliers are some of the more interesting players to discuss; by overcoming some of their team’s deficiencies, they can tell us a lot about themselves in the process.

Trey Burke, the 29th-ranked player overall and chart-topper in the most recent APM Rookie of the Year Rankings , is one of these standouts who is so despite playing for an out-of-contention team.  In his first year out of Michigan, the young Burke has taken the reins at the point for the Jazz and looked up to the job, especially for his age.  Let’s look at some of the qualities that have him valued so highly, both from the box score and beyond:

The vast majority of his value comes with the ball in his hands; he’s 12th overall for offensive APM.  He’s just what the Jazz have needed for years, a skilled ball-handler who’s also capable of hurting defenses with his shot.  But while he certainly has skill and athletic promise, the asset that likely helps him be valued so highly by APM is his IQ on the court.  It’s cliché, no doubt, but Burke really is ahead of his years mentally.

He turns the ball over remarkably little for any first-year player, but especially for a first-year point guard.  His 2.69 assist-to-turnover ratio is a top-10 figure for over 70 rotation guards league-wide with usage rates over 18%, per NBA.com – ahead of guys like Tony Parker, Goran Dragic, and Jeff Teague despite having a comparable usage rate to these names.  The change has drastically affected Utah’s overall ball management since his insertion into the lineup after missing the first few weeks of the season due to injury.  Before his return date of November 20th, Utah tied with the Warriors for the second-most turnovers a game in the league – since that date, they’re down over four turnovers a game, going all the way from second to 22nd league-wide in that span.  Watch an example of how he does it here:

A relatively simple play, but instructive into what separates Burke from others his age.  Rudy Gobert sets the side pick, and rolls open on his first pivot out of the screen.  It’s very easy, and very common, for a young point guard to simply take the bait here – it’s a fine play to hit Gobert right away and count on him to use his space effectively with both defenders shading toward Burke.  But noticing Kevin Love turning away from Jeremy Evans to help on Gobert’s roll to the basket, Burke gives a hesitation dribble, retaining the big Frenchman as a passing option while taking him a step closer to the baseline.  When Love watches the ball instead of re-attaching to his man, Burke finds Evans for the easy hoop.  Again, while this may seem simple, this sort of nuance in the pick-and-roll for a rookie ball-handler is very impressive.  This is part of what keeps his turnovers so low; he hardly ever gives the ball away in various pick-and-roll sets, and most of his instances of sloppiness tend to come in transition or on entry passes to the post, curiously.

Of course it’s one thing to avoid giving the ball away, and another entirely to also do positive things offensively at the same time.  Burke fits the bill, though he certainly has room for improvement like all young players.  His shooting prowess might actually be slightly exaggerated, as he’s at just an even 39.0% for the year, well below-average.  This is, in large part, due to his over-reliance on his mid-range game – despite just a 38.3% proficiency, Burke shoots more mid-range jumpers than any other kind of shot.  Teams have started to come around to the reality here, leaving him more space coming around picks to try and prevent him slashing.  But he’s still new enough to the league that he likely is aided by a little more respect than he might deserve from range at this point in his career – last year’s NCAA Tournament certainly didn’t hurt him here.

He uses this respect to make an offensive impact with his passing, one of a few little advantages he maximizes in his role as a distributor.  Another is his extended wingspan – listed at only 6’1 in height, Burke has a 6’5 reach.  This helps him shield the ball and also makes threading tough passes that much easier; indeed, the defenders who have played him most effectively have been the same kind of longer, rangier guards (Ricky Rubio gave him fits over a recent two-game set).  His above-average intelligence is again a weapon as well, as Burke is one of very few players his age capable of the sort of variation offensively he has shown:

Again, it’s the subtlety of Burke’s action here that makes this impressive.  The hesitation dribble in the lane, once again, is something not many young ball-handlers are capable of, and it’s the key to the play.  The Lakers play bad defense on this action, but it’s Burke’s final head-fake hesitation as he nears the hoop that captivates Marvin Williams’ defender, Jodie Meeks (#20) into ball-watching an extra beat.  Williams barely has enough time for the shot as it is given the cross-court pass and the time it affords the defense to get back in position; this nuance may seem small, but in this case it meant the difference between an open shot and a contested one.

Burke isn’t perfect, of course, and his excellent offensive APM outweighs what is actually a negative rating defensively.  Once again, he isn’t helped by his surroundings – the Jazz are the worst defensive team in the league.  But his teammates certainly aren’t hiding a defensive savant of any kind, and Burke still has work to do to reach league average for his position on that end.  This was the expectation for the year defensively, though, and his offensive prowess has exceeded most projections.

Like so many of the more under-the-radar players who find themselves valued highly by APM, Trey Burke is a heady, intelligent player who uses every advantage, both physical and mental, to excel.  That he does so on a subpar team is even more impressive, and his stock will undoubtedly continue to rise as he is surrounded with more talent in future years.  Folks in Salt Lake City should be excited for the years to come – they’ve got a true floor general here, and the possibilities after a year or two more development with the rest of a young core are tantalizing.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Trey Burke Vs. The World (Of Point Guards) http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-vs-the-world-of-point-guards/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-vs-the-world-of-point-guards/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 22:16:59 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9549 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Since John Stockton hung up his Jazz jersey in the spring of 2003, Utah has struggled to find that one special point guard that can be the general for a brigade of talented basketball players. From Mo Williams to Jamaal Tinsley, Utah hasn’t exactly had the best luck in terms of point guards since the departure of Deron Williams during the winter of 2011.

As  the Jazz make their transition into the 2nd half of the 2013-14 season and beyond, Dennis Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor, Ty Corbin and the rest of the Jazz organization are putting their stock into the overall skills and potential of rookie point guard Trey Burke. The Jazz are clearly an extremely raw team with their eyes clearly set towards the not so immediate future. Despite that fact, the overall performance of Burke during his rookie season is still extremely important for the organization going forward.

To really capture and judge Burke’s performance during his rookie season, I’ve compiled a large amount of graphs consisting of point guards who have been drafted in the 1st round since 2008. From Westbrook to Carter-Williams, Burke will be compared to some of the best young guards in the NBA. Since I’m using advanced stats from the NBA Media Site and Synergy, I’ve made sure that every single one of these guards are currently active (sorry Derrick Rose) and have played more than 25 minutes per game, which would basically place them in your typical starter or 6th man role.

Offensive Points Per Possession/ Usage Rating

Point Guard Usage Percentage

Point Guard OPPP Chart

Offensive Points Possession and Usage Rating are two advanced statistics that basically coincide with each other when you try to find a player’s total impact on offense. For example, George Hill’s superb Offensive Points Per Possession (OPPP) is kind of masked by the fact that he’s the least used player on Indiana’s starting 5. As the player gets used more, the numbers tend to even out to get a true and honest reading on how good or bad that certain player is. With that in mind, a superstar like Russell Westbrook ranks near the middle of the pack in terms of OPPP because of how often he’s used on the court. Meanwhile, these two graphs really showcase how fantastic top-notch scorers like Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry really are, because of their ability to be so efficient while  also being one of the most used players on their given teams.

Transitioning to Burke, he’s one of the stranger cases as he’s in the middle of the pack in both categories. Since he’s slowly making that rookie transition to a team that features a multitude of quality young pieces (i.e. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks), Burke hasn’t necessarily been used as much fellow rookies Carter-Williams or Victor Oladipo. With that said, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Burke has been a pretty inconsistent shooter.

True Shooting Percentage

The real reason behind Burke’s mediocre to below average scoring output is the simple fact that he’s just not an extremely efficient scorer. While his below average TS% might be concerning, Burke has still been performing relatively well in PnR (44.7 FG%) and in transition (1.1 PPP), two areas that he flourished at during his stint with Michigan. The only real play type in which Burke has been shooting poorly is spot-up situations (shooting 28.6%). While he’s shooting well below average from that area, it should be noted that around 75% of Burke’s spot-up shots have come from the perimeter.

Shotchart_1389999524607

While Burke is mediocre from the perimeter, his main issue deals with his performance from around the rim. Even though it’s a cause for concern for the 6’1 guard, it really shouldn’t come off as a surprise considering the fact that his work around the rim was a big issue when he played for Michigan. The following quote from Draft Express’s scouting report on Burke goes deeper into Burke’s struggles from inside the paint:

One area which Burke may struggle at the NBA level is with his ability to finish plays inside the paint in traffic. He converts just 52% of his attempts around the basket in the half-court, a fairly average rate, as he’s hampered at times by his lack of size and strength against bigger, longer and more athletic frontcourt players. He tends to settle for tough runners and floaters in the lane, which he finds mixed success with, and needs to get much better at using his left hand around the rim, which he seemingly avoids at all costs.

Assist To Turnover Ratio

Where Trey Burke really makes his impact on the Utah offense is his overall ability as a distributor. While a good portion of that could be due to the fact that he plays alongside the likes of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, probably the biggest reason behind Burke’s high AST/TO ratio would be because of his experience in a slow-paced half court offense from back during his time with Michigan. Another trait that he’s carried over from Michigan would be his expertise in the pick and roll. As 16% of the team’s total offense, the pick and roll has become a crucial element towards Utah’s progression as an overall unit, which will definitely help Burke progress as a player more quickly.

As for the general future of Utah’s offense, Trey Burke has really transitioned nicely into the NBA offense thanks to his PnR partner Derrick Favors. The quickness and athleticism of Favors often pulls the opposing defense towards the paint, leaving a clear opening for Burke to either shoot from the perimeter, or drive and kick it to out to Richard Jefferson or Gordon Hayward.

On Off RatingTo conclude this look at Burke’s overall impact on the Jazz, let’s take a glance at the above chart, which lists how the particular team does when the player is on and the court. While this piece talked about individual stats that focused on different offensive aspects (Offensive Points Per Possession, True Shooting Percentage and Assist to Turnover Ratio), this takes an overall glance at how important the player actually is to the team when he’s on the court. As you can tell from the above chart, Utah’s offense isn’t nearly as good when Burke is sitting on the bench. The way Burke orchestrates the overall offense shouldn’t be taken for granted, as Utah is in a similar range to the likes of OKC, Denver and Indiana when Burke is on the court. While advanced stats don’t represent the totality of a player’s performance, the data displays Burke’s overall positive impact on the Jazz’s offense.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Trey Burke: Ice in His Veins http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-ice-in-his-veins/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-ice-in-his-veins/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:14:21 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9557 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

Moxie. Swagger. Cool. Fearless. Calm. Patient. Composed. Confident. Poised. Ice.

We’ve been hearing all sorts of adjectives to describe Trey Burke, especially his clutch, late-game play. After last night’s game—even though it was a loss—those descriptors are even more solidified as he scored the Jazz’s final 11 points in about a minute of action. In fact, I had to re-watch that last minute-plus of play about five times just because it was so cool watching his game. Sometimes I forget he’s a rookie.

He hadn’t been hitting his shots most of the night—he was 3-11 through the first three quarters—but that didn’t stop him from stepping up and taking—and making—big shots in the final minute of the game. That takes a lot of guts to keep taking shots when you haven’t been hitting them much on the night, especially when the game is close. Even more impressive is that he’s doing this as a rookie. Sure, we see him making some rookie mistakes or picking up ticky tack fouls, but he plays with such a calm confidence, completely fearless out there at the end of games, that I can forget he’s a rookie.

I think we’re familiar enough with Burke and his time at Michigan to know that this is a pattern, where he takes and makes big shots, but it was fun to go back and re-read some articles (do a Google search for “Trey Burke” and “moxie” and see what comes up!). Here’s one that describes how Burke carried his Michigan team to a huge win over 6th-ranked Ohio State:

With just more than 11 seconds remaining in the game and the 19th-ranked Wolverines clinging to a three-point lead, the freshman had taken Aaron Craft — one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation — off the dribble, finishing with a high-arching layup off the glass over former high school teammate Jared Sullinger.

It was just a few possessions removed from another drive where he had beaten Craft off the dribble and crossed over in the lane for a left-handed layup. The 5-foot-11 point guard had in essence put the entire Michigan basketball team, coaching staff and fan base on his shoulders and given the Michigan fans something they haven’t had in a long time — a win, something to be proud of and cling to in this often lopsided rivalry.

So what did the final minute of last night’s game look like? The Trey Burke Run started when he got the defensive board off the Kawhi Leonard miss, pushed the ball (maneuvered around Richard Jefferson), pulled a quick hesitation move before crossing over and blowing past Parker before kissing the ball off the glass and getting the and-one. It was beautiful. Then he nailed the free throw. On the next Jazz possession, Alec Burks missed a heart-breaking layup. San Antonio hit one of two free throws, and then Burke calmly hit a jumper at the elbow off a screen with 27.9 seconds to go. San Antonio hit a couple more free throws, and Burke used a Kanter screen to take a leaning, off-balance three pointer that he nailed. Ice, ice baby. It was one of those shots that you’re watching, thinking, “That is NOT a good shot!” And then when it goes in, you can’t take it back, but you’re okay with it. On the next Jazz possession, Burke drove and missed a layup, but the Jazz got possession and, after calling a timeout, hit a DEEP three pointer. And to see him catch that pass far behind the three-point line, you could see him put his head down, collect himself, take a dribble, and launch that three with confidence. He held his arm in the air as he waited for it to fall through the net. It was beautiful. Eleven points in just over a minute.

I ran some numbers on NBA.com to get a feel for what Burke’s numbers look like at the end of a close game. How does he stack up to other good players, and where is there some room for improvement?

First, Burke has played in 15 games where the Jazz are within 5 points with 5 minutes remaining. Their record in that time? 10-5. Chris Paul’s numbers: 10-7. Damian Lillard: 16-7. Michael Carter Williams: 9-4. Those numbers are especially impressive for a team helmed by a rookie point guard who missed most of the preseason and the first chunk of games with a broken finger. Burke’s field goal percentage in those minutes is 46.2%–much higher than his FG% on the year—and his 3-point percentage is an incredible 60% in those clutch minutes (Paul’s numbers: 40.8% and 30.0%, respectively; Lillard’s numbers: 47.6% and 47.8%, respectively; Carter-Williams’s numbers: 45.8% and 33.3%, respectively). Burke also hasn’t missed a free throw in those circumstances. Ice, ice baby.

Burke has the same number of assists per game in those clutch minutes (0.5) as Damian Lillard, Steve Nash, Wilson Chandler, and James Harden, but he’s shooting a much higher percentage from three than all of them. And while Burke did have a career-high 11 assists last night (topping the double-digit mark for the second time in his short career), that’s one area where Burke could improve his already-improving game. Michael Carter-Williams averages 1.5 assists per game in those clutch minutes, which is incredible when you see that Chris Paul’s numbers are 0.9 (Marc Gasol, interestingly enough, is at 0.8).

What does this tell us? We’ve got a clutch player on our hands, ladies and gentlemen. And he’s only going to get better from here. Ice, ice baby.

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Trey Burke Video Interview http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-interview/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-interview/#comments Sun, 22 Dec 2013 20:16:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9256 Author information
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP1P2fNqVMg&autoplay=0&rel=0&hd=1]

 

Trey Burke, acquired by the Jazz to fill a desperate need at the point guard position, spent the beginning of the season on the sidelines. The ninth overall pick suffered a fractured right index finger on October 12, causing him to miss the first 12 games of his rookie campaign. During that stretch, the Jazz went 1-11, ranking 29th in points, three-point percentage and assists.

After coming off the bench for his first two games, Burke has started every game since. His presence in the lineup contributed to an improved offense, but most importantly, wins. In Utah’s next 18 games, the team put together a 7-11 record.

“He can score,” says Head Coach Tyrone Corbin, “He’s learning a lot. He’s a guy that’s looking to get better every night he steps out there on the floor. He’s working his tail off to understand what we’re looking for from him and what gives us a chance to be effective, while we try and figure out what gives him a chance to be as effective as he wants to be on the floor.”

courtesy: Getty Images

courtesy: Getty Images

Asked if he expected Burke to be able to instantly contribute, Corbin says, “Yeah. He was College Player of the Year. The way the team is now, we understood we were going to have him on the floor a lot. We were going to demand a lot from him. He responded to it. As he picked things up, we demand more from him.”

Burke is averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists in just under 30 minutes. Although he is shooting under 40 percent from the field, many have noticed his innate scoring ability, which Corbin calls the most NBA-ready aspect of his game. “He can really shoot the ball. He can shoot it, so that gives you a chance. He’s a point guard by nature, who’s a scoring point guard, so some of those things allow him to be able to be on the floor and be effective on the floor because he can put the ball in the hole.”

“He’s done a great job of coming in, being ready to score. [Burke] spaces the floor for us pretty well and has knocked down some shots,” says fourth-year forward Gordon Hayward.

Already the natural scorer, Burke’s shooting percentages can be attributed to both his sudden immersion in the offense and the lack of double-teams drawn by Utah’s roster. Derrick Favors is currently the only member of the team averaging better than 50 percent from the field.

While the Jazz is a team in transition, Burke has quickly provided a spark for the offense and bright spot for the future.

Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague, who experienced a contrasting career trajectory to Burke’s, was familiar with the 21-year-old from his two-year career at Michigan. “I watched a lot of his college games, I’m a big college fan, so I know he’s a really talented player. He’s going to come out and play hard and do what he does best–he can score the basketball, he can make shots.”

While Teague started only 10 games in his first two NBA seasons, he is putting up career-high points and assists in his third straight starting campaign.

“He makes the right plays, he makes shots,” Teague says of Burke, “That’s all you can really ask for out of a rookie.”

Author information

Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg
Tracy Weissenberg is a writer for SLAM magazine, operating the “Basketballista” blog on slamonline.com, as well as working as an on-air reporter for SLAM TV. She also works for Turner Sports, working in production for various NBA television programs.
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