When Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke got the news, he did not take it very well. Yet as time went by, the former college basketball player of the year has begun to find his niche, learning to take the good with the bad as he develops his game.
Well, that slower, more careful path appears to be the one suiting Burke the most, as the Jazz sophomore has either topped or neared 20 points in four of his last games, including a dazzling 23-point outing on Sat. Feb. 28 in an 82-75 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite coming off the bench Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Burke still took 19 shots, making eight. But the real area of improvement was in his three point shooting, where behind the arc he knocked down five of his 10 attempts and still had the time to dish out six assists in the win over the Bucks.
“It was a tough one,” Jazz point guard Trey Burke admitted. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. Coming out here on our home court against the Lakers the other night was a game we felt like we could have won. So we just wanted to give the crowd a good game.”
If this kind of sounds like the path upon which Jazz great and NBA all-time assist leader John Stockton started treading, you would be correct. Like Burke, Stockton learned his craft sitting on the bench behind Rickey Green. That Burke is learning behind a rookie–or Dante Exum–may seem strange, but he’s beginning to overcome his early objections to the role and adapting.
Everyone in Utah and beyond knows how Stockton’s early role went down, because the Gonzaga grad became a Hall of Famer and a legend. By giving up a piece of his own fame, No. 12 went down in the history books as the most unselfish player to have ever played the game of basketball.
For Burke, his role coming off the bench hasn’t seen quite the same trajectory. But, when you consider that Stockton sat on the bench for several years before finally getting his chance to show what he could do, then you realize anything is possible for the former Michigan Wolverines star and he’s still got a ways to go.
As time has gone on, there is no question that Burke is improving. Not just in his field goal shooting–which stood at a paltry 37 percent last season–but in other areas. Over the past five games alone, Burke has had two back-to-back 23-and-19-point games, bookended only by a rough seven point outing in a loss to the LA Lakers in which he still grabbed five rebounds and did other things.
Burke is also shooting 47 percent from the field and the same clip from three point land in his past five games, too. For some people, the All-Star break did their games a world of good.