If you take a poll among Utah Jazz fans, you would soon find out that Alec Burks is one of the most important pieces to this Jazz core. Alec has taken to the sixth man role for the Jazz this year and has been incredible in doing so. The 22 year old shooting guard out of the University of Colorado, has averaged nearly 14 points per game off the bench this season, up above his career average of 9.5 points per game.
However, Burks has been sidelined for the last three games because of a sprained left ankle. Burks twisted it in practice last week on a team mates foot. During the three games that Burks has missed, the Jazz have gone 1-2. With Burks out of the rotation, Coach Tyrone Corbin has used typically a 7-8 man rotation in his lineup. Without Burks in the rotation, there really has been no big spark in scoring off the bench.
Alec has been ruled out for tonight’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Burks told reporters at shoot around this morning that he was “not in shape” and that he “wants to get some one-on-one and two-on-two work first.” With only ten games remaining on the Jazz’s schedule this regular season, the question that will come up will be, why should the Jazz even bring back Alec Burks for the remainder of the season?
The Jazz (23-49) are on their way to the lottery, and after losing 13 of their last 15 games are looking at closing in on a top three pick in the upcoming draft. With Alec returning from injury, those plans of a top pick could change a little bit of the Jazz’s outcome come lottery time.
In the remaining 10 games, the Jazz play four games against teams with an above .500 record. The other six games include the New Orleans Pelicans (twice), New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. If Alec returns before the season is over, I can see the Jazz ended the regular season on a three game winning streak. The three game winning streak could ultimately be the difference between a third pick and a fifth or sixth pick in this year’s draft.
I am all for Jazz wins. I hate to see the Jazz lose. However, with 10 games left, there really is no reason for Alec to come back. He has said he is not in shape and wants to get some work in before returning. That work could take a week, if not two. By that time, there might only be three to four games remaining on the schedule. If I am Jazz management, I am telling Alec to focus on the off season, get healthy, and be prepared for the next season because we want you to be the starting shooting guard (depending on the draft pick). Alec has been a very coachable kid this season and has listened to Jazz management and the coaching staff very well. I think this is something he would be on board with, it would more than likely please the Jazz “tank” fans, and Alec comes back next season as a force to be reckoned with for the Jazz.