Sure, he mocked a kid with a genetic disorder on Instagram–and then tweeted those um, pics to some female that she re-tweeted–but everyone has their moments. For Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, he’s had more than his share of embarrassing public situations–perhaps more than any Jazz player ever.
But, it’s Burke’s play this season through two preseason games that makes you think, hmmm, maybe this kid is onto something. You had to wonder after his Instamoment and his Twitter twaddle had mouths agape.
That the last thing happened just last week makes you think, what was the kid THINKING?!? You can be pretty sure his parents were thinking the same thing everyone in the Jazz front office was thinking.
Now everyone can rest easy, because his playing is doing all the talking–not the other things. Burke dropped 22 on a good Portland Trail Blazers team in his last preseason outing, a 109-105 win over a Damian Lillard-less squad.
Even so, Burke now has two solid outings against the Blazers in two preseason games–while his counterpart at guard, Australian Dante Exum, struggles to find his way in America. What was all that talk about Exum being better than Burke?
To be fair, Burke did attempt twice as many shots as Exum, shooting 9-for-16 against the Blazers, 3-of-6 from three point land. In his game previous Burke was just getting warmed up, attempting just 10 shots while making four.
In two preseason games, Burke is now the team’s leading scorer–while doing a heckuva job handling the rock. He’s had just four turnovers in nearly 60 minutes of action–leading you and the rest of his doubters and haters to have a nice, tall glass of shut up juice.
Yeah, Exum’s from Australia and he has some cool TV commercials. So what! Here are five reasons Burke is all the way back, and then some, after a crappy off-season from a personal standpoint.
It is obvious to anyone within eyesight that Burke is a changed man since new head coach Quin Snyder entered the fray. Burke is more poised this year as opposed to last, and you can sense that he’s got a vote of confidence from Snyder when it comes to shooting the rock, too.
Burke is doing more by doing less by himself–and it’s paying off. The Jazz are 2-0 this pre-season, a much different result from where it was at this point last year. And Burke, well, he’s a different guy altogether. An NBA All-Rookie First Team pick last year, Sports Illustrated points out that Burke need only make “marginal” improvements on offense and major ones on defense in order to help the Jazz.
Based on Burke’s first two pre-season games out the blocks, he may be on his way. His leadership summit with Jazz great John Stockton in Stock’s hometown of Spokane, Wash. did help last summer–but it’s the on-court work he’s put in the gym this past off-season with the new coaching regime that should pay dividends going forward.
Trey is ‘too big, yo’–even for Gordon Hayward, the mammoth-looking guy who coined that phrase–when it comes to knocking down treys. Burke connected on 50 percent of his attempts from behind the arc on Thursday, including the game-clincher with under a minute to play.
For the preseason, Burke has knocked down exactly half of the three point shots he’s attempted. Compare that to what he shot last season (33 percent) and you can sense a huge improvement in that area.
Burke’s totals are up in this department, too. In the win over Portland on Thursday, Burke’s ratio was seven assists to just two turnovers–this despite playing almost 28 minutes and taking 16 shots. In his game previous he was 4-to-2, again playing about the same minutes while taking fewer shots.
What this means for him going forward is that while he’s always had a good assist-to-turnover ratio, the two positive performances in these games bode well. Last year, his A-to-T ratio was right at three per game.
Field goal shooting
Burke has never met a shot he didn’t like. Last year, he chucked up nearly 900 shots–making about 34 percent of them. In two preseason games, Burke’s field goal percentage is already eons better than last year at over 50 percent.
While it’s still awfully early to proclaim this the year of the Trey, his shot selection appears to be better–thanks in part to the vested interest Snyder is playing in his development.
Did Tony Parker have a squeaky clean image with the otherwise pristine San Antonio Spurs? Of course not. But, he did become a perennial All-Star under a similar system.
Burke really needs to improve on his steals from last season. He had fewer than one steal per game for the Jazz as a rookie. This preseason, however, Burke is looking to pick pockets more often.
He had three steals in his first two preseason games, adding credence to Snyder’s philosophy that good defense will create more transition baskets.
A steal will most certainly do that, and one led to a high-flying dunk by none other than Hayward–another player like Burke who will be looking to improve on last season’s underwhelming totals. So far, so good, for the Jazz, and most important, for Burke himself.