NBA Preseason 2012-2013, Game 7:
Utah Jazz (4-2) @ Portland Trail Blazers (2-3)
Player Focus: Alec Burks
If we're living under the fantasy where head coach Tyrone Corbin didn't already pencil in his starters 2 months before training camp started then we're still living in the fantasy where Alec Burks' actual play and production on the court can actually influence how much he will play in the upcoming season. If we're looking at production in the preseason games it's hard to argue against Burks.
In 18.0 mpg he's averaging 8.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, and 1.3 apg. That does not look like much. But when you give him 36 minutes (which we all know is impossible) that balloons up to 17.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 2.7 apg. It's a little light in assists, but the most distinguishing factor in favor of more Burks is how he scores. Right now he's shooting 48.6 fg% (Randy Foye is at 26.5 fg%, DeMarre Carroll is at 43.2 fg%, Mo Williams at 36.4 fg%, and Gordon Hayward at 40.8 fg%). Only the amazing Marvin Williams is doing better. Burks is also shooting 71.4% from downtown, making 1.7 threes per 36 minutes, and he's also a foul magnet. He's going to the line 3.2 times a game in 18 minutes, and he's going to the line more than twice as much as Al Jefferson has. Over a 36 minute stretch Burks is getting to the line 6.3 times a game. He's putting a lot of pressure on the other team on offense.
He's no slouch on defense either, but right now, Burks is our most dangerous weapon -- pound for pound, minute for minute. He gets to the line, hits threes, and shoots great: 55.4 eFG%, 1.38 PPS. For a point of reference, Karl Malone was a 1.40 PPS guy. Another point of reference? In more minutes this preseason, Randy is a 0.82 PPS guy.
If preseason statistics matter (because they are quantitative indications of on-court production), then Burks has made a case for himself for more playing time.
But it's more than that . . . Burks eats up the Blazers. Yes, in Game 1 of the regular season series last year he only got 6 minutes of action and did not do much. The next three games saw him give the Blazers:
- 6 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 5 FTA
- 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 three, 8 FTA
- 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 three, 5 FTA
The only team he kills more are the Denver Nuggets. When you give Burks the ball, and let him do his thing, he blinds all onlookers with his potential brilliance. It would be dishonest to call them flashes at this point.
Ty is telling people he wants to try more Mo Williams / Randy Foye lineups (despite SLC Dunk explaining in a post this offseason how those don't work). He should be trying Mo Williams / Alec Burks instead. Or maybe he's been specifically told not from the higher ups because Karl Malone went on NBA TV saying that's exactly who he'd start.
I don't know. The Jazz do seem like a stubborn franchise that loves to burn bridges.
It's stupid not to play Burks. He has a history of destroying Wesley Matthews, Luke Babbitt, Nicolas Batum, and Nolan Smith. That's who he'll be playing against tonight (and maybe also some Damian Lillard). As the most recent podcast explained fully -- Burks has that chip on his shoulder. He'll be ready to kick butt in this game.
And if the coaches are paying any attention, they'll work overtime on the plane ride home tonight trying to re-do their 2 months old rotations to try to get him on the floor more.