OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 07: Alec Burks #10 of the Utah Jazz drives on Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 7, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Alec Burks is a rookie, so that means in the feudal system / hard forced labor camp that is the Utah Jazz -- we're not going to get to see a lot of him this year. Only a few guys in recent memory have broken through to get significant playing time as a Rookie under our "Vets Yes, Youth No!" regime: Wesley Matthews in 2009-2010; Paul Millsap in 2006-2005; Deron Williams in 2005-2006; and Andrei Kirilenko in 2001-2002. That's a pretty good group of people right there, it would not be absurd to put Alec Burks up in that echelon after a few seasons though. Why? Because from what little we've seen of him he's a GameChanger.
Probably the first thing you notice is that he's a superior athlete. He's not a freak of nature that has a 7' wingspan as a guard, but he has some or the more traditional things you'd want from a guard. Against a group of his peers (SG, SF), from the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp measurements from the last 10 years (or so) he's between +2 and +1 standard deviations above the norm in 3/4 court sprint, lane agility, max vertical, and max vertical reach. I know this because I did the work in excel to find this out. He's an athlete. Yeah, he didn't kill it in bench press -- but we already have Enes Kanter on the team if that ever becomes an actual part of determining wins or losses.
He isn't a waif like Quincy Lewis, just a pure jumper like DeShawn Stevenson, and not a super specialist who could shoot all day, but couldn't run up and down the court like Morris Almond. He's an advanced prototype for the type of high energy combo guard all NBA teams want.
If you watch him play a few things stand out. They measured his quickness, but he's flat out a blur on the court. Last night he punked Daniel Green of the San Antonio Spurs so bad in the open court, I felt like I was watching the last 5 minutes of the movie Above the Rim. Former Jazz player Ronnie Brewer was a physical freak -- he was long and got a number of steals, and he could jump out of the gym. But he didn't know how to dribble. Burks appears to be the Gestalt Guard of all of our past drafts.
Alec gets to the line a lot, that's the other stand out thing even a casual basketball observer will get. Our "main man" primary offensive weapon who shoots the ball 17.3 times a game, has a USG% of 27.6, and scores the most points -- Al Jefferson -- gets to the free throw line 3.2 times a game. (For those keeping score at home, LAST YEAR, Andrei Kirilenko got to the line 4.2 times a game, with the 10th best USG% on the team) Jefferson gets to the line 3.2 times a game while playing 32.8 mpg. Alec Burks gets to the line 2.1 times a game in only 11.8 mpg.
Let's talk about the stats a bit, shall we? For a rookie guard, combined with the degree of difficulty that goes into his shots, it's amazing that he's shooting 41 fg% / 39 3pt% / 73 ft% right now. Sure, it's not the 45 / 40 / 90 we got from Jeff Hornacek when he was playing here, but Jeff had already been an All-Star and super seasoned by the time he played in Utah. Burks is still a rookie, and his eFG% (a way better metric) is already higher this year than that of C.J. Miles, Josh Howard, Earl Watson, and Jamaal Tinsley (the backups that Burks is competing with for playing time at the PG / SG / SF spots). I'm not saying give Burks all the minutes -- let's not forget this is about him being a game changer.
When he gets in the game he gets results. If these minutes were expanded to 36 a game this is what Alec is giving the Jazz right now, as a rookie: 17.6 ppg (3rd best rate on team). 5.3 rpg, 6.4 FTA (1st on team), 0.6 made threes (5th best on the team, not a zone buster, but still shooting 39 3pt% right now). He's not the perfect player, it's not like he collects Blocks, Steals, and Assists like Andrei did -- but he's still finding his way. On a team that need bench scoring every night it's a wonder why he sits.
When he's on the floor the Jazz are a Net +9.5 on offense, per 100 possessions. And the Jazz defense gives up a net -5.2 per 100 possessions as well. That's a difference of +14.7 when he's on the floor. Sure, when he's on the floor he's not up against Kobe Bryant, but isn't it better that he's torching the other team when he's in, regardless of who he's going up against -- instead of getting killed by them? He also has positive Net PER values for 48 mins at both PG and SG. We could go into advanced stats forever, but probably the best idea of what he brings to the team comes from MySynergySports.com.
In terms of points per possession he's #71 in the entire NBA in Spot up shooting. And from that sequence, he's 5 for 7 from downtown. He's an all-around guy. Not just an athlete. Not just a freak of nature. Not just a guy who can score. If anything, he's a slasher / penetratior -- but here we see that at the NBA level he's also earning more minutes because he can spread the floor. On a team like ours, he's a GameChanger.
Thanks to Basketball-Reference.com , 82Games.com , MySynergySports.com , DraftExpress.com , and Utah Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor for drafting him -- without you guys this post couldn't have happened.