Trey Burke Comparisons: Mo Williams? Others?

July 8th, 2014 | by Laura Thompson
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 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?

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

Laura was a Jazz fan since diapers, even growing up in California. Her favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach--though possibly not in that order.
Laura Thompson

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  1. MyKroberts says:

    Haven’t ever been that high on Burke’s ceiling, but still it is disturbing how much the Mo comparison made sense as soon as I thought about it.

  2. ScotsJazzFanIn London says:

    In other positions in the game I tend to put a lot more stock on individual points and FG%, but the PG position I think its harder to make a real comparison here because every PG is going to run the game in a different manner to the next player, based on what they feel is a natural for them, and based on the players they have around them.

    The balance between scoring individually, assisting and running the show is going to be different for every player.

    Based on stats alone, it may well look fair to compare Burke to Mo Williams, but then you look at the minutes played and see that Trey has triple the minutes in his rookie season. I’m Scottish so I wasn’t a jazz fan when Mo was a rookie so I am not that familiar with the players he had around them. However Trey was thrown into a situation as a rookie where there was no starting caliber PG’s on the team, you might even be more critical and say they was no real second string backup quality PG on the team. Trey wasn’t allowed to learn the NBA game against second string players but thrown in with the big boys straight after an injury. Who else was he playing with? Essentially a young squad with few natural penetrative scorers on the team. A lot of Jazz fans are critical of Hayward last season but he was one of the few players on the team that the opposition at the start of the season would see as a scoring threat, after that Burk, and Kanter. Who did Mo Williams play with? Who did Tony Parker (a PG who did play as many minutes in his rookie season as Burke) play with? How natural were those players at scoring, were they a better scoring unit than Trey’s team? Stats only show part of the story, especially in one season…..let’s give him a few seasons before we rush to judgement…a better balanced squad…may well paint a different story.

    • Spencer says:

      Love that analysis. You are right. Mo is actually a very different player. He was a combo-type guard who played with a lot of great vets. He just came in and shot for the most part. Trey has excellent PG skills, mindset etc. He has the mindset and IQ of the really excellent and great PGs. He is lacking physically, however, so for me that makes his absolute floor as a good rotation guy who can really run a team well, but is always in a physical mismatch. His absolute ceiling is a Nash, Mark Price, Slower Chris Paul type.

      I believe Mo reached his ceiling with Cleveland, and I think that Trey will have a decidedly greater impact due to his IQ and different skillset with the ball.

      That said, I think it is obvious that he will never be able to stay with Westbrook or the like physically. (Of course neither can Chris Paul) so I love the pick of Exum. Exum can easily be that physically dominant PG presence, and a rotation of him and the Burks brothers is exciting.

  3. Mewko says:

    Mike Conley! He also improved his shooting percentages with time.
    Burke has the attitude to improve his speed and defense. Burke will never be the guy who stops Westbrook or Lillard like Kawhi Leonard stops LeBron. But Burke can make sure they don’t go crazy 40 or more points. Just holding those elite point guards to their normal 20 points.
    I think Burke won’t get as many opportunities as Conley will, Hayward, Favors, and Exum will be our big 3.
    Trey Burke in 4 years: 14 PPG 44% FG, 36% 3PT, 3 RPG, 6.5 APG, 0.9 SPG. Not only will his jumpshot get more consistent with time, experience, and coaching, but he will get spot up opportunities off the ball with Exum on the ball.

  4. Aaron says:

    Chris Paul was never a fair comparison, and few could hope to live up to that. Mo has had a nice career, but I’d like to think Trey has a better chance to stick around on a contending team and not bounce around like that. I like the Conley comparison, and would probably consider Lowry to be the ceiling. I’d love if he ever got to be that good, and with his fearlessness, I think he can do it.

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