RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Trey Burke

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

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The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Trey Burke

School: Michigan

Height/Weight: 6’1” / 190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Overview: After flirting with the NBA a year ago, Trey Burke had almost no choice but to take the plunge this go-around. When you lead your team to the National Championship game, collect a smorgasbord of National POY trophies, and produce one of the most indelible March moments of recent memory, your draft stock can’t really get much higher. Burke’s stellar season is well-documented at this point, but it’s worth noting the drastic improvement in efficiency for Burke between years one and two at Michigan. He cut his turnover rate from 18.6% to 13.4%, increased his assist rate, and shot the ball better from the free throw line, two-point range, and beyond the arc. Oh, and he did all this in one of the best conferences college basketball has seen in years. Burke did everything he could on the court to impress scouts, but there are still concerns about his viability as an NBA point guard.  His height (barely six feet) scares a lot of teams, and both lateral mobility and overall athleticism has come into question with Burke. Some of the concerns are not dissimilar from those scouts had with Chris Paul before he entered the league, and Burke’s fiery demeanor and leadership also conjure up memories of a young Paul. But Burke is well behind where Paul was as a prospect, and if he ever hopes to come close to making the kind of impact Paul has made in the league, he will have to provide resounding answers to the questions that currently surround him. A tall (no pun intended) task ahead, but anyone who watched Trey Burke for the past two years knows better than to count him out.

Will Translate to the NBA: There may be some athletic limitations in play with Burke, but the diminutive point guard’s offensive game is quite evolved. He shoots the ball extremely well – both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations – and gets teammates involved by driving and kicking. He is a great decision-maker who limited turnovers last season despite having the ball in his hands all the time. The length of NBA defenders will test Burke, but there are very few holes in his offensive game. Burke is also a winner, through and through. He wants the ball in clutch situations, demands the most from his teammates, and works tirelessly at his game. There is no player in this draft better suited to step in and lead a team from day one than Burke.

Needs Work: The biggest knock on Burke is his small stature, but Trey obviously won’t be able to do anything to amend that flaw. Where he can put in some time and work is on the defensive end.  Burke was not a bad defender at the college level, but was not always as plugged in to that side of the ball as you would want, and the challenge will only get tougher at the next level. Besides being small, Burke also lacks explosiveness and his lateral quickness tested out poorly at the combine. He will need to give maximum effort and also use that high basketball IQ to turn himself into a capable defender at the NBA level. The ordinary athleticism and quickness is also an issue on the offensive end, where Burke may end up better suited for a slower, half-court game.

Best Case Scenario: Opinions about Burke are all over the place, but optimists believe he can be an elite point guard in the league. Chris Paul comparisons are floated at times, but even as a best case scenario, Paul’s career is likely a bit too accomplished already for Burke to replicate. Jameer Nelson and Mike Conley both seem like relatively reasonable player comparisons for Burke, but if everything goes right, Burke is capable of producing at a higher clip than those two players. Something right in the middle of Paul and Conley sounds like the ticket here. Burke has that winning makeup that makes you not want to ever bet against him, so dismiss his upside at your own peril. Some believe he will never be capable of even starting in the NBA, but a reasonable best case scenario should have Burke averaging 20 points and eight assists for a multi-year period, which would be enough to earn him an All-Star bid or three.

Best NBA Fit: After some initial buzz that Burke could be a sleeper for the top pick, it seems that the former Michigan star will now likely hear his name called somewhere during the back half of the lottery. The New Orleans Pelicans at #6 could go in Burke’s direction, as they seek a lead guard to pair with Eric Gordon. The Sacramento Kings at #7 would be a great fit for Burke. His fearless leadership would be welcomed on a roster that lacks a true point guard and any sort of chemistry. The Detroit Pistons, owners of the #8 pick and desiring to move Brandon Knight to shooting guard, would also make a lot of sense for a Burke destination, especially considering he played his college ball just down the road in Ann Arbor. If Burke isn’t drafted by any of these three teams, he’s likely tumbling all the way to #13 and the Dallas Mavericks as a bare minimum, as no team drafting #9-#12 is in need of a point guard.

Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Point guard with tremendous heart and determination… Many of the cliche attributes fit him: A natural born killer. Fearless warrior. Fierce competitor. Has a will to win. Will battle tooth and nail on every possession. Mind over matter guy who brings intangibles that don’t show up on the box score. Clutch performer who seems to shine when it matters most… Undersized for the PG position and could struggle some to compete with bigger, quicker and more athletic point guards at the NBA level… Scouts worry that he may run into similar problems as 2011 top 10 pick Kemba Walker: having many passes deflected due to his size and having to work twice as hard (defensively and getting shots off) on a game to game basis due to his size.”

BHayes (173 Posts)


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