Happy 21st Birthday Alec Burks! Jazz fans - here are 21 reasons to celebrate

Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Here at SLC Dunk we all generally love Alec Burks. I think he has all the right tools to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in this league. He has the internal motivation, physical abilities, and actual basketball skills that will make the Utah Jazz very happy if they are smart enough to actually use him more.

Today is Alec's 21st birthday. He has a party so if you are in the area, stop by to say hello. If not, say hello and happy birthday to him here! Let's start the celebration with 21 reasons to love Alec Burks, after the jump . . .

#1 - He is only 21 years old, and he's already so damn good. Last season he was better than a number of veterans much more experienced than him. The difference is that he has age on his side, and tons of potential.

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#2 - He is still 4-5 seasons away from his physical peak - he'll get faster, stronger, and be able to jump higher, and improve his endurance because he's a workout wonder, in addition to being a naturally gifted athlete

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#3 - The Jazz drafted him at #12, which is the reverse of #21, his current age

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#4 - Alec is a corner pimp. For the future of our offense, he's one of those guys who CAN and DOES hit that corner three. (close to 35% on just corner threes as a rookie) He's also a boss on the baseline. His long range, mid range, and driving ability on the baseline really is going to be an asset moving forward. (An asset that allows everyone else to have more room to operate on the court - like say cutters, or guys playing pick and roll)

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#5 - Burks knows how to use his body, he is built for speed but still has the body control and awareness to know where he is, and where the opponents are - even at full speed. His drive drive layup against Washington is a great example. Another is his fastbreak layup where he was ahead, slowed down, gathered, and laid it up around a Clippers player who was flying by.

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#6 -While he has never taken 21 FGA in a game before (trying to work with that 21 angle, but this isn't Kobe's birthday we're talking about -- he's the only dude who can shoot his age in a game), he is a master of both 2s and 1s. Since I brought Kobe up, as a rookie Kobe went 125/286 on twos, that's 43.7 fg%. Burks? He went 138/312 on twos this year, that's 44.2 fg%. For a rookie guard, being better than Kobe is hard to dismiss. What about the 1s? Well, Burks gets to the line like a Mini-Malone. For the team he was #6 in total FTA (despite being only #9 in total minutes), and #1 on the team in estimated FGA / 36.0 minutes played. It's not just hypothetical abstractions either -- as a rookie he has multiple games of getting to the line 10 or more times. And in the regular season he got to the line 5 or more times in 12 games. Playoffs? He was one FTA away from doing it in 3 of the 4 available games (Gm 1 5 FTA, Gm 2 5 FTA, Gm 3 4 FTA). It doesn't hurt that he actually makes his FTs too, 85.7 ft% in the playoffs. Burks isn't a volume shooter, but he is a master of 2s and 1s.

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#7 - Did you watch the Orlando Summer Pro League games? Yeah, 'nuff said.

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#8 - Burks is a way better ball handler than everyone on our team, except Jamaal Tinsley. I don't mean in straight up numbers, turn overs, or dribbling drill times. Burks is up there too in all of that, but I mean that he has a very fine control of the ball that works with his natural talents. No disrespect to Gordon Hayward, who is surprisingly adept at dribbling despite being 6'8 -- but Burks is just way better. Part of it is that court awareness I wrote about above, but another part is that Burks really works on his game. We've had a ton of SGs come to our team over the years: DeShawn Stevenson, Quincy Lewis, Morris Almond, Kirk Snyder, Shandon Anderson, and so on. I had no confidence in any of them dribbling the ball. Burks has my total confidence. That's something not all of the PGs who played for us last year even had.

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#9 - NBA Pre-Draft Combine Maximum Vertical Reach: 11 feet, 7.5 inches. ELEVEN FEET SEVEN AND A HALF INCHES! Point of comparison, our hulking 7 foot center Enes Kanter's (from the same testing facility and date) was 11' 10". Also, there are ton of forwards and other full time bigmen who are eclipsed by Burks' ability to get up there. (And these are his values BEFORE going to P3)

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#10 - Oh yeah, he's super Dwyane Wade -like. Someone researched this and presented their findings on it.

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#11 - He wants the ball in crunch time, and if he gets it good things happen -- ask the Dallas Mavericks about the crazy comeback we had with him in the game in the 4th quarter on the road. We didn't win that game, but maybe if he was in the game earlier, we wouldn't have had to have come back at all? We already all know that he's a game changer.

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#12 - Hey, do you know who was the #108th best defender in the league last year, according to PPP rank? It was the same guy who was #40th best at defending pick and roll ball handlers, and the same guy who was #8th best in the NBA at defending dudes running around screens. That dude was Alec Burks. Not Raja Bell. Not Josh Howard. But Alec Burks. Not that our coaches look at advanced stats . . . or apparently game film either . . .

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#13 - His best career games have come against: Portland (x2), the Lakers, Denver (x2), and Minny (we're too proud to admit that they give us trouble). All Western Conference teams, and precisely, he is a damn head hunter for other Northwest Division Teams. He averages 9.9 ppg (48.9 fg%, 3.6 FTA per game) in less than 20 minutes of action against them. That's aside from all the rebounds, assists, and steals he makes. Oh, and in all of his best games -- they've all been wins except for Gm 2 of the season in Denver. He knows who our rivals are, and he is decapitating them one by one.

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#14 - Swagg. He has it. We need it. The NBA markets it. And the Refs respect it.

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#15 - Alec thinks he can out jump Jeremy Evans. It's not just a swagger thing, Jeremy is unreal. But Evans is hyper competitive. One thing is for sure, though, Burks is similar enough to Evans to be able to use his vertical as a weapon on the court . . .

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#16 - . . . because Burks had 62 offensive rebounds per game last year. He played in 59 games in the regular season, and 4 in the playoffs (he had 5 in that series alone). This is a shooting guard who is crashing the glass and getting about 1 offensive rebound a game. Not because of boxing out -- but because he has that great court awareness and insane jumping ability (again, 11'7.5" max reach). He's actually #126th best in the L at scoring off of offensive rebounds. Our shooting guard. What the heck, man? On the Jazz he was the #2 dude not named Paul, Derrick, Enes, or Big Al in total offensive rebounds, offensive rebounds per game, and only 0.1 shy of tying Big Al's per 36 min offensive rebound average. Seriously, what the heck, man?

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#17 - The Jazz need to get better at spot up shooting. A big part of our offense was spot up jumpers last year. That doesn't mean we were great at it. Do you know who is? Alec is. He was better than 3/5ths of the league at them (rank #203 in PPP), as a rookie who was supposed to not be able to shoot. On Spot up three pointers he went 12/24 -- 50%. This is evidence that if he's open he'll knock the shot down. (Look at all the open spot up threes we missed over the years with other SGs taking the shot -- or look at all the open spot up threes the Spurs MADE against us in the playoffs. This matters.) Outside of his amazing ability to get to the line, or his driving ability, or his passing ability -- as a shooting guard his ability to actually shoot will be something we go crazy for.

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#18 - Head to head -- he's waaa-aaay better than that Jimmer Fredette dude. I guess this is troll bait now.

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#19 - He wants to win.

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#20 - He's a big part of our future.

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#21 - And he's a member of our Utah Jazz

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Happy Birthday Alec! Have fun, and be happy!

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