Trey Burke as Chris Paul

June 30th, 2013 | by Kyle Hunt

The Jazz stunned the world in 2005 when they took Deron Williams over Chris Paul with the third overall pick in the NBA draft. Thought by many to be the superior candidate for a team in desperate need of a solid point guard, Chris Paul seemed to have the job in the bag before the draft even commenced in mid-summer. Though the franchise eventually benefited quite nicely from the Williams pick (even earning a spot in the 2007 Western Conference Finals), many Jazz fans are still haunted by what could have been.

Jazz fanatics still believe the decision to pass on Chris Paul will fester like an unhealed blemish for years to come, but there are others (myself included), that hold a different opinion. Something magical happened a few days ago that makes me believe the Jazz may have already acquired the next Chris Paul. While watching the NBA draft, I was initially surprised when Trey Burke fell from the top five, and then a small glimmer of hope crept in immediately after that moment. Once I discovered the Jazz planned to trade for Burke, I felt something warm, almost supernatural, tingling inside of me. I’m not sure if the feeling was heartburn from the jalapenos on my nachos, but something was burning, and quite frankly I’d like to assume it means Trey Burke is the point guard of the future. Maybe he’s here to bring the hope we’ve all been anxiously waiting for, the hope that Deron Williams so disturbingly stole away when he left for the Brooklyn Nets in a frenzied fit.

If you look at the numbers put up by Chris Paul and Trey Burke during their college careers, the stats are comparable. The numbers show that Paul was more efficient on the defensive end, averaging approximately 2.5 steals per game during his college career. The offensive battle however, goes to Trey. While their freshman season scoring stats are remarkably similar, Burke pushed ahead in his sophomore season, increasing his scoring average from 14 to 18 per game, compared to Paul’s 15. Burke even wins the passing game, averaging just .1 assists more per game than Paul did in his final season with the Demon Deacons.  Apart from those categories, it appears Chris Paul and Trey Burke are nearly the same player, which should be considered a positive sign of things to come.

Most basketball gurus might say it’s difficult to expect Trey Burke to be Chris Paul when he hasn’t even set foot on an NBA court yet. This is true, but we can make logical predictions. It’s clear the Jazz have lacked sufficient skill at the point guard position since the departure of D-Will. They’ve had a Earl Watson here, a Mo Williams there, and a Devin Harris in between, but none of those mediocre point guards established themselves as a true court general—one who can pass, one who can score at will, one that commands respect, and one that can take control of a game when necessary. Those attributes adequately describe the leadership style and play of one Chris Paul, a player the Jazz might have won championships with.  Trey Burke possesses the same fire and tenacity as Paul, and one can only assume his game will translate well in the NBA.

It’s likely the Jazz did make a grave mistake when they passed on Chris Paul, but they now have a chance to make it right. It’s quite possible that Burke is a future all-star point guard in the NBA. Experts say this draft lacked the talent level of previous drafts, but every decision the Jazz have made in the last few years was surely calculated a million times over, and I’m comfortable with that. I can only trust this is the right move that will put the Jazz on a path to success. Salt Lake City may be haunted by the Ghosts of Chris Paul Past, but now there’s a chance to halt the haunting. Trey Burke gives the Jazz a chance to be a contender again, and that’s something fans haven’t witnessed for some time.

Kyle Hunt

Kyle Hunt

Kyle Hunt is an avid sports fan who follows college and pro basketball extremely close. He is a regular college basketball contributor for the Deseret News and runs his own sports blog in his spare time. During the day Kyle works as a digital marketing analyst, improving the credibility and web presence of more than 25 high-spend clients.
Kyle Hunt

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  1. Mac says:

    left for Brooklyn in a frenzied fit?

    Did I miss something?

  2. Geoff Beckstrom says:

    The real concern is not that the Jazz missed on Chris Paul as a player – but so clearly misjudged Deron Williams as a person. I am more hopeful that Trey Burke is of a personality that would be happy to play for the Jazz long term, even if he isn’t CJ McCollum let alone Chris Paul.

  3. Rory says:

    I have never felt spurned that the Jazz drafter D-Will over CP3. I still think D-Will is 20x’s the PG that CP3 is!!

    • 1-mike says:

      20x’s the player did you not watch the olympics or the last 2 NBA seasons? Not even a question CP3 is the superior talent…

      • Rory says:

        You have to take in consideration the teams they have been on and the talent around them.When D-Will was healthy this past year he posted better #’s than CP3 on an inferior team.

  4. Geoff Beckstrom says:

    Chris Paul PER by year from 2006 to 2013:
    22.14 22.00 28.39 30.04 23.74 23.76 27.09 26.43

    Deron Williams PER by year from 2006 to 2013:
    12.42 17.15 20.75 21.13 20.62 21.19 20.34 20.38

    Only irrational Utah Jazz fans consider that there is even a comparison. Chris Paul is and has been the best point guard in the NBA for 6 years and its not even close.

    • sptfyre says:

      You’re right because the only deciding factor in who is better or not is based on their PER, because as we all know it is a perfect system. If it was only irrational jazz fans thinking DWill was better than they wouldn’t have had debates about it on ESPN. It was a pretty big topic there for a few years and the professional analysts were pretty split on who they thought was the best pg in the league. If you’re looking at their careers from this point CP3 clearly is better as DWill hasn’t been great the past couple of seasons, which is why that debate has died down, but for a few years it was really take your pick.

  5. Roy says:

    Have to agree with Geoff here. Deron may have outperformed CP3 in 5 of 6 games head to head, but that’s only 5 games. Paul has clearly been the better PG in the league for years.

  6. Mike says:

    Really the argument of who is better doesn’t matter. Paul left a small-market Hornets team for LA just like D-Will left Utah for Brooklyn. If the Jazz had drafted Paul instead of D-Will he would either already be gone or about to leave their roster in free agency this year anyway.

    • Geoff Beckstrom says:

      I agree its likely that Chris Paul doesn’t resign and stay with the Jazz if drafted. But its also likely that Jerry Sloan is still head coach instead of having to watch Ty Corbin learn on the job. PER is not an exact science – but the difference in overall production between Paul and Williams is significant.

  7. Charlie says:

    Not only was drafting Deron the right move, but drafting cp3 would have been much worse for the Jazz. It’s very revisionist to say how much better cp3 is to Dwill. During the time Dwill was here his stats were comparable, he owned the head to head matchup, and he helped the Jazz go further in the playoffs. Just because Dwill was a jerk doesn’t mean Jazz fans should assume that cp3 wouldn’t have whined his way out of Utah like he did with NO. We got more for Dwill in the trade than NO got for cp3. I hope Burke is superior to both of them but drafting Dwill over cp3 has never haunted this Jazz fan.

    • Geoff Beckstrom says:

      DWill won the head to head match ups because he had the better team and the better coach. The stats were NOT comparable. Paul put up historical numbers, DWill was a borderline all-star. The Jazz FO certainly deserves credit for what they received in the DWill trade but there is no way to tell if Paul could have taken the Jazz further in the playoffs (the trip to the Western Conference finals had more to do with Golden St upsetting Dallas than anything else), whether Sloan would still be head coach and where the team would be today. But there is no (rational) argument as to who the better player is.

      • Charlie says:

        Thru the 2010-2011 season CP3 averaged 18.7ppg 9.9apg and 4.6 rpg. Dwill averaged 17.2ppg 9.2apg and 3.2 rpg. Those are comprable numbers. I don’t dispute that CP3 has had the better career but to say that his numbers were historic and Dwill’s were far off the pace is wrong.

        • Geoff Beckstrom says:

          Charlie did you purposely cherry pick those stats which are comparable even though Paul is nearly 10% better in all 3? There is a reason that Paul put up historical (comparable to Michael Jordan) PER numbers and DWilll put up good but not all star PER numbers. Mainly because Paul shoots 20 percentage points better from the field (.473 to .453), gets more than twice as many steals (2.4/game to 1.1/game) and commits 23% fewer turnovers (2.4/game to 3.1/game). Its great to be a fan of your team and its players – fact is the Jazz weren’t going to go wrong with either Paul or DWill – but its clear that Paul is the better player – by a good margin.

  8. Matt says:

    I think you blog on this matter is shrouded in hind site.

  9. Kyle: I agree with you. I think we can expect to see some special things from Burke and from the Jazz in the next few years.

  10. cj watkins says:

    remember who we ended up with ,this big d-will mistake helped us to get WHO & how much more talent in the bigs area .stop looking at the surface and look at the big picture of what the Jazz did with a little lemon in D-will.

  11. Laura Thompson says:

    Nothing like a DWill vs. CP3 debate to get everyone all riled up!

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