Should Trey Burke Shoot Less?

February 25th, 2014 | by Laura Thompson
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.

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).
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson

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One Comment

  1. BC says:

    Jeremy Lin is not a starter and really plays shooting guard rather than point guard. You should use Patrick Beverly instead.

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