It’s no surprise that Trey Burke is the most highly-touted point guard in the NBA Draft after the season he had at Michigan last year. He had the option of entering the draft after his freshman season, but elected to go back to school for a chance to play for a championship. Many thought he was foolish for passing up his chances at the NBA to go back to Michigan, assuming that his goals of playing for a championship were farfetched. But Burke backed up his decision with a remarkable season, winning National Player of the Year honors and leading his Michigan Wolverines to the championship game. Needless to say, he proved the naysayers wrong.
It’s not often that potential lottery picks actually return to school and increase their draft stock. Trey Burke did exactly that. In his sophomore season, Burke increased his numbers across the board, averaging 18.6 points and 6.7 assists a night, shooting 46 percent from the field (38 percent from three). What impresses NBA scouts most about Burke is his heart and determination. He blossomed into a fearless leader at Michigan this season and really showed scouts how confident he is about his abilities. Those qualities are necessary in any NBA franchise point guard and there’s no question that Trey Burke fits the description.
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NBA Comparison: TY LAWSON
At an even 5-11, size isn’t exactly one of Ty Lawson’s advantages, but he doesn’t let that hold him back. Lawson plays much bigger than his size and the same goes for Trey Burke. Both players make up for their lack of size with their fierce intensity and passion. In terms of size, Lawson is outmatched almost every night, but on most occasions, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the stat sheet. That’s the type of player Trey Burke is going to grow into.
If Trey Burke didn’t improve at all from this point, he would turn out to be another Ty Lawson: A scoring point guard that is a fearless leader and gives it everything he has every night. However, if he continues to develop, Burke could end up being much better than Ty Lawson. He’s already further along than Lawson was entering the league. Lawson averaged about eight points and three assists in 20 minutes per game in his rookie season. Burke will have a much better rookie campaign and will most likely continue to improve after that. At the very least, Burke will end up being Ty Lawson, but if he continues to improve at the rate he is now, he could end up being one of the best young point guards in the NBA pretty soon.
Burke is a much better athlete in the heat of battle than he shows on paper. For example, in the combine he measured a 36.5 inch max vert. But in the national championship game against Louisville, he got up much higher than 36 inches on that block attempt on Peyton Siva‘s layup. His jumping ability is underrated, and that’s the only aspect of his athleticism that’s even questionable.
Burke is as quick as they come. He uses his quickness on both ends of the floor, with his ability to rotate and jump passing lanes on the defensive end and also with his ability to push the ball up the floor in transition. In terms of speed and agility, he’ll be able to hold his own with the majority of NBA point guards. While it certainly helps to be a great leaper, it’s not a necessity at the point guard position. Some of the league’s best point guards like Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving are great athletes without jaw-dropping jumping ability. Burke will fall under that same class.
At the NBA level, it’s extremely important for a point guard to be skilled in all aspects. With the way the position has evolved, you’re limited with a below average handle or a limited shooting ability. Guys like Derrick Rose and John Wall learned that you can only rely on your athleticism for so long. While they were able to live off their athleticism in college, the NBA is a completely different monster. As an NBA point guard, your skill-set is what sets you apart. Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving have quickly risen to the top of the barrel because of their refined skill-sets.
Trey Burke’s skill-set is very raw. He’s pretty good at everything but not particularly great at anything, which isn’t a bad thing. There are definitely areas of his game he can improve upon. He doesn’t shoot with the consistency of Steph Curry or handle the ball as well as Irving, but he shows flashes of those qualities. His range extends a foot or two beyond the NBA three, while his shiftiness and his low center of gravity makes it hard to take the ball from him. Those qualities give him something to build on going forward. He has a natural scoring ability and is also an underrated distributor. His pick-n-roll skills are very polished and he’s able to thread the needle to the roller or extend the play and find the open shooter on the perimeter. He’s not exactly a pure point guard, which is why he’s more of a Ty Lawson than a Chris Paul, but with his raw skill-set, there’s no telling what type of point guard he could grow into.
NBA READINESS: 8
Trey Burke was ready for the NBA after his freshman season. Scouts projected him as a first-round pick, and after another year at Michigan he’s now projected as a top-10 pick. Burke’s game developed immensely in his sophomore season at Michigan. He proved to scouts he’s ready to lead an NBA team right now. In addition to increasing his numbers, Burke also improved his leadership qualities. At the point guard position, the biggest question when evaluating a prospect is “can he run an NBA team right now?” At Michigan, Trey Burke proved he can. That’s why he’s going to be the first point guard taken on draft night.
But defensively, Burke is going to have a hard time guarding his opponents. Even though he has good instincts, almost every team has an elite point guard in the NBA right now. He has long arms and averaged 1.6 steals at Michigan last year. He’s a pesky guard with a good understanding of defensive concepts.
Still, Trey Burke has nothing to worry about in the long run. All rookies struggle on D. Mentally he’s about as ready as they come and although he’s a bit undersized, guys like Norris Cole prove that you don’t have to be a sizeable guard to be a good defender.
Trey Burke has the skill-set to convince you that he could end up being the best overall player in this year’s draft. He’s easily comparable to Ty Lawson, but has enough potential to become Chris Paul. His leadership qualities are comparable with Chris Paul, but he doesn’t have the pure point guard abilities just yet.
The fact that he’s so well-rounded allows him the space to grow into any type of point guard. He could become a score-first, do-it-all leader… or he could turn into a floor general distributor that still has the ability to kill you from three.
Burkes ability to run the pick-n-roll is what stands out the most about his potential. He’s already shown great instincts and timing, and is a more than capable passer. Those skills are the foundation of a great distributor. Also, in a NBA setting, Burke will be surrounded by much more talent. At Michigan, he had to do it all. In the NBA, he’ll be equipped with a more talented roster and it could help him mature as a distributor as a result of that.
Trey Burke’s intangibles have a lot to do with why he’s being projected as the best point guard in the draft. His fierce competitiveness and extreme confidence impress scouts. Burke plays the game completely fearless. He’s never timid and he loves leading his team through tough junctures of the game. Burke wants to be the guy. He wants to be a great player. He has the drive and desire to do whatever it takes to win. Those are qualities you don’t find in every draft prospect. Trey Burke has the complete package with his talent and skill-set, in addition to his determination and passion off the court. Burke’s ability to dictate the tempo of a game and impose his will as the leader on the floor is possibly his most impressive quality.
Score: 42 of a possible 50 points
Best Fit: ORLANDO MAGIC
Burke could be the point guard of the future for the Orlando Magic. With the elite leadership qualities he possesses, the Magic would be foolish to pass him up. If the Magic choose to go in a different direction, they would be ignoring the fact that the league has become more point guard oriented than ever before.
Jameer Nelson is no longer the point guard of the future for the Orlando Magic. It’s time for them to acknowledge that and find his replacement. They have the perfect opportunity to do that with Trey Burke. With the Magic landing the No. 2 pick in the draft, it frees them of the pressure to draft based on best available talent as opposed to addressing a need. In this instance, Orlando should address their most important need: the point guard position.
5. Burke’s High School Senior Year Mixtape
4. Burke comes up with a nasty block and then throws a 35-foot alley-oop
3. Burke’s steal and dunk to beat Michigan State in the final minute
2. Shocking NCAA Tournament performance against Kansas
1. What should’ve been a block against Peyton Siva
Who is the best comparison for Trey Burke?
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