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.