This time around, we stray away from the college game for a bit and set our sights on the NBA Draft, which features two former Michigan Wolverines, one of which has a shot to come off of the board very early, point guard Trey Burke.
The 2013 National Player of the Year raised his draft stock about as high as it could go after his stellar season that culminated in an appearance in the national title game. Burke tested the waters after the 2011-12 campaign, but decided to return to school. We all know what happened after that. So where does he fit in at the next level? Let’s take a closer look.
Size/Athleticism: At 6-1, 190lbs, Burke is not a physical specimen by any means, but he is one of the most athletic players in this draft and knows how to use his body to get to the basket and make plays. He is about the same size as Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe, and Kemba Walker, guys that he is most compared to. Trey Burke will have to get a bit stronger, though.
Scoring Ability: Trey Burke was not the kind of guy that would go out there and drop 30 on anyone night-in and night-out in his college career, but he has the range to hit shots from anywhere on the floor. (Does this ring any bells?). He has the potential to be one of the better scoring point guards in the league, though. He has to become a more aggressive player. We saw what he was able to do down the stretch in games when he went into attack mode.
Rebounding: Averaged about 3.5 boards per game in his college career. Not really a strength of his, but not a weakness, either.
Defense: He has the ability to be a good defensive point guard. Watching him go up against Ohio State’s Aaron Craft over the last two seasons and seeing how he handled his matchup with Michigan State’s Keith Appling in Ann Arbor showed many scouts that he has very good ball skills and footwork. Averaged about two steals a game this past season. Not nearly consistent enough on this end of the floor. The NBA’s better scoring point guards will give him trouble.
Instincts/IQ: He’s a smart player who doesn’t turn the ball over and simply makes his teammates better. For as much talent as the Michigan basketball team had this past season, they went as Trey went. When he was on his game, everyone else became better. I expect this to be what helps him to succeed in the NBA as well. As great of a scorer as he is, he is as good a distributor. Burke has fantastic court vision.
Potential: Many have compared him to Chris Paul, but I don’t quite see that. I had stated several times during the season that I could see Trey Burke carrying the Wolverines deep into the NCAA Tournament like Kemba Walker did a few years back, and that’s who I most compare him to. I do see some Tony Parker in his game as well in terms of having a knack for getting to the basket. I don’t see him being a superstar, but Burke should be a 16 point, 7 assist-type of player in this league. He’s a definite high-lottery pick. May be the most talented player in a down draft class.
Where He Fits:
- Orlando Magic (2nd overall): A year removed from the Dwight Howard trade, they Magic just flat out need talent. Orlando could use an upgrade at point guard as well, as Jameer Nelson isn’t getting any younger, but could be a great mentor to Burke early on.
- Phoenix Suns (5th overall): The Suns are another team that could be looking to upgrade the point guard position if a scoring wing isn’t available.
- New Orleans Pelicans (6th overall): Greivis Vasquez actually played pretty well this year for New Orleans, but I don’t see him being the answer there long-term. Burke could potentially hold down the point guard duties for one of the most talented young teams in the league.
- Detroit Pistons (8th overall): This would be a dream scenario for many Michigan fans if Burke was to slip here. It’s a short drive from Ann Arbor to Auburn Hills, so it could be a good move for the Pistons as well since attendance has been down the last few seasons. They seem intent on keeping Brandon Knight off the ball, and it’s unknown at this time if they will re-sign Jose Calderon. Pistons fans would love the sound of “Trey Burke-to-Andre Drummond” for the foreseeable future.