When the Utah Jazz drafted Trey Burke back in 2013 there was a lot of hype surrounding the point guard. Burke had just led the Michigan Wolverines to the NCAA National Championship game and was named the College Player of the Year. The future was bright and hopes were high for Jazz fans and their new point guard.
Then reality set in, and Burke’s first two seasons in the league proved to be more of a challenge than anticipated. But early in this, his third season, Burke seems to be putting the pieces together. Small sample size aside, Burke is shooting and scoring, knocking down 46.9 percent from the floor and an even 50 percent from deep. Burke has averaged 13 points in 23 minutes, compared to 12.8 points in 30.1 minutes last season. What’s been the key to Burke’s success? It’s really quite simple: confidence.
It’s been said that confidence is key. While that may or may not be true in all aspects of life, it couldn’t be more true for athletes, and Trey Burke in particular. Part of that confidence stems from internal growth. The point guard position has the steepest learning curve of all positions. The first year is often spent trying to apply the style of play they’ve played their entire life, finding out what works and what doesn’t work in the NBA. The second year is spent trying to improve upon what didn’t work the previous season. Finally, in the third year, the only point of emphasis is doing what they do well. In his third season as a pro, Trey Burke is finding confidence in his growth as a player and comfort in playing within the confines of his own abilities.
The second source of Burke’s confidence is being able to play a large portion of his minutes against second unit players. While not quite a starter, Burke has the potential to be a threat off the bench. Burke should feel confident he can score against most backup point guards, which should only add to his ever-growing confidence. Once again, there is a certain level of comfort knowing his role shouldn’t change. Despite Raul Neto getting the nod to start, once Dante Exum returns from injury (most likely next season), Neto will go from starter to third string. Burke will continue to be asked to play his game in a similar capacity for seasons to come. That continuity and understanding of his role will strengthen Burke’s confidence.
The third source of Burke’s confidence comes from Quin Snyder. By now, every Jazz player should understand Snyder is dedicated to their development. Snyder was brought in by the front office in part because he had a track record of improving the players he has coached. If anyone can help Burke reach his potential, it’s Snyder. Burke trusts his head coach and Snyder has begun to trust Burke. That kind of relationship will add fuel to the fire of Burke’s confidence.
It’s taken a few years for Try Burke to start to live up to some of the hype that surrounded him in college, but I’m confident Burke’s best basketball is still ahead of him.