There was quite the spirited, entertaining conversation on Twitter yesterday on whether or not it would be better off for Trey Burke to start this year or come off the bench. Many pros and cons and theories were thrown out and it was interesting to read people’s opinions. I think after the past 2 1/2 years this team has had of trying to be just “good enough” to make the playoffs, it is imperative that Trey Burke start this year. The Jazz are now in the business of developing talent and hopefully home grown future all-stars. In order for this to happen they cannot hold back the talent they have compiled. They have to been on the court together, going through on the job training and team chemistry development. The Jazz traded up for Trey Burke because they wanted him to be a key component of this.
I understand that there can be value from playing behind a veteran and learning. John Stockton had that opportunity to learn from an all-star in Ricky Green. The difference with this team is there is no Ricky Green. The things that Trey can learn from John Lucas III can be done with John Lucas in a bench role. Trey is the more talented player and Lucas can help build his confidence up when he is down and be a mentor and a teacher without getting in the way. Ian Clark was a nice addition to the roster in the fact that he is a young and hungry player that will push Trey to always be at his best in practice and in games.
Trey Burke is a competitor and a winner. There is going to be an adjustment period for Trey to the speed and strength of NBA basketball. This will lead to some frustrating times for the young player and we may even see reactions that might be perceived as whining. Now raise your hand if you’ve never seen Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, etc whine about something? Yeah I didn’t think so. What separates these competitors from other players however is once they’ve thrown their fit, they turn that energy into fuel as motivation to get better. Trey Burke will take his lumps this year, but we will see progress throughout the year and next offseason he will be even more highly motivated than he already is to get better knowing what he needs to work on. This is the beauty of on the job training for young players in the NBA.
How important is it for a talented young player like Trey to start right away? Let’s take a look at a player we’ve compared Trey to before here at Purple & Blues, Chris Paul. Now I know that Chris Paul is a future hall of famer and I’m in no way, shape or form saying that Trey will be too. That will be completely up to him and how hard he’s willing to work. What I want people to pay attention to is how much starting right away helps talented players. I think we can all agree that Trey is a talented player. Chris Paul started and played in 78 games his rookie season of 2005-06. Some notable names on the New Orleans Hornets roster that year were: 3rd year player David West, 5th year player Chris Andersen, 2nd year player J.R. Smith, Rookie Brandon Bass along with veterans PJ Brown, Aaron Williams, Rasual Butler, Speedy Claxton, Marcus Fizer, Marc Jackson the center, Desmond Mason and Moochie Norris. Not exactly a roster that strikes fear into your heart. How did they do? They went 38-44 that year under coach Byron Scott.
As a rookie Chris Paul averaged 16.1 ppg, 7.8 apg, 5.1 rpg, 2.2 spg and 2.3 turnovers per game. He averaged 36 minutes per game, shot 43% from the field, only 28.2% from 3 and 84.7% from the line averaging 6 foul shots per game. Now that is quite the line for an NBA rookie. The only person that averaged more ppg than Paul was David West at 17.1 ppg and only 2 others averaged double figures in scoring. Chris Paul has taken that 1st year experience and ran with it to become the best point guard and one of the best players in the league. This is the impact that playing time can have on highly motivated, competitive and talented individuals. Trey Burke is that type of player. Will he be able to replicate those numbers? I don’t know. What I do know is that he needs the chance and the minutes to try. (All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference)
The starting lineup for the Jazz has to be Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter for each game this year barring injuries. Veterans such as Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams need to show they can stay healthy and need to be the strength and leadership of the bench. John Lucas needs to give Burke a few minutes rest here and there and then be a person he can lean on and trust. If the Jazz didn’t believe in Trey Burke’s talent and ability to start right away they would’ve made a stronger push at other free agent point guards that could have a bigger impact on the court. This year’s team is about development and giving the young guys the opportunity to show what they can do. Then in the offseason in 2014 the Jazz will know the moves they need to make to take the next step towards there goal of a NBA championship. For now, Trey Burke needs to play, play big minutes, and to start. This will pay huge dividends for years to come or the Jazz will know what they need to do when his rookie deal is up. Trey Burke must start for the Utah Jazz.