Utah Jazz 40 at 40: Trey Burke isn't just another bump in the road

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Since the retirement of John Stockton and the ascension of Deron Williams, the point guard spot in Utah has been a cause for concern. How does Trey Burke compare to the 'forgettables' of this post-Stockton era? How does he compare to D-Will?

Trey Burke has heard it all his life, he's too short, he's not fast enough, he'll never be good enough to make the team. Instead of listening to what other people had to say, Burke has channeled his energies towards working hard, and surpassing all of the barriers other people try to construct for him. And I get it, really. He is short. He isn't Usain Bolt. He can't finish at the rim like Russell Westbrook. So what?

All Trey has done since returning from a fractured bone in his shooting hand has been to set this team in the right direction, and help us win games.

Some people, myself included during the summer league, had worried about Burke. Even today some Utah Jazz fans are looking at this upcoming draft and scouting Marcus Smart. Smart is good, but Burke is actually smart. He's not some evil genius like Rajon Rondo, but he's clever enough to know what to do with the ball, and when. After pouring over every single minute he has played this season with a fine tooth comb I can say that there's nothing to worry about. Our rookie point guard isn't just another stand in while we wait to draft our next "Point Guard of the Future." The future is here now.

Since John Stockton retired it was rough waters in Jazzland until they moved up to pick Deron Williams. And since Deron was traded, the waters were far from placid. Over all there have been more than a dozen point guard aspirants who have come to our team, and at least started one game here. Some of them started the vast majority of their games here, some of them mostly came off the bench. But each guy was, for the most part, auditioning to be "that guy" at the point guard spot.

Let's look at 14 of them, and +1 more for Trey Burke to see how he stacks up.

Post-Stockton, and removing Deron, we get this group a group that has started 38% of the time, in their 1368 games in Utah. This group sums to a guy who plays 19.9 mpg, and in that time manages 6.4 ppg, 3.4 apg, 0.8 spg, and has an Assist to Turn over ratio that's not that good, only 2.25 : 1.00. This Jazz starting point guard Post-Stockton manages to shoot 40.0 fg%, 31.4 3pt%, and 78.4 ft%. They make 0.5 threes a game, and get to the line 1.6 times a game. This list isn't the same list in that analysis of our back up point guard train wreck. Some of the names are the same here, but this is a larger data set to work with -- and conceivably -- better players. If you are into that PASR thing, the cumulative PASR rating of these 15 cats is 12.3.

Player Years GS G % MPG PPG RPG APG TO A:TO SPG PASR
1 Trey Burke 2014 2014 28 30 93.3% 31.0 13.7 3.2 5.7 2.1 2.70 0.7 23.3
2 Devin Harris 2011 2012 79 80 98.8% 28.4 12.3 1.9 5.1 2.1 2.39 1.0 20.3
3 Carlos Arroyo 2004 2005 87 101 86.1% 27.2 11.3 2.3 5.0 2.1 2.40 0.8 19.4
4 Derek Fisher 2007 2007 61 82 74.4% 27.9 10.1 1.8 3.3 1.5 2.28 1.0 16.2
5 Mo Williams 2004 2013 46 103 44.7% 21.3 8.5 1.8 3.5 1.7 2.05 0.7 14.5
6 Raul Lopez 2004 2005 26 113 23.0% 18.9 6.5 1.7 3.8 2.0 1.94 0.7 12.7
7 Keith McLeod 2005 2006 79 119 66.4% 22.0 6.6 1.6 3.3 1.5 2.21 0.9 12.3
8 Milt Palacio 2006 2006 18 71 25.4% 19.4 6.2 1.9 2.7 1.5 1.73 0.7 11.4
9 Howard Eisley 2005 2005 1 74 1.4% 19.3 5.6 1.2 3.4 1.5 2.25 0.6 10.8
10 Eric Maynor 2010 2010 2 26 7.7% 14.0 5.2 1.5 3.1 1.1 2.89 0.5 10.2
11 Earl Watson 2011 2013 19 178 10.7% 19.3 3.3 2.2 3.8 1.5 2.54 0.9 10.2
12 Jamaal Tinsley 2012 2014 38 111 34.2% 16.6 3.4 1.5 3.9 1.5 2.61 0.7 9.6
13 Randy Livingston 2005 2005 4 17 23.5% 13.4 3.8 0.7 2.6 0.8 3.21 0.7 7.8
14 Ronnie Price 2008 2011 24 232 10.3% 12.3 3.8 1.1 1.6 0.9 1.81 0.7 7.1
15 John Lucas III 2014 2014 6 31 19.4% 15.7 4.3 1.0 1.2 0.6 2.06 0.4 6.8

When sorted by PASR it's obvious who the cream of the crop is. It's also obvious that, man, we sure played some awful players a lot of minutes.Just to be clear, though, Burke has only played in 930 minutes here, while guys like Devin, Carlos, Derek, Mo, Raul, Keith, Ronnie P, and Earl have all gone way over 2k minutes. Earl, in fact, is over 3k. Their sample sizes are larger, but it's hard not to suspect that Burke's ceiling is higher. Right now his simple numbers (PASR) show him to be superior.

It's not just the Gestalt number that matters, he's first in MPG, first in PPG, first in RPG, first in APG, third in A:TO ratio too. And his shooting, well, let's not wait to dive into that! While he doesn't get to the line the most (he's above average), he is first in FT% at a crazy high 90.5 ft%. He's third in 3pt% (when you throw away Randy's 5/8 62.5 3pt%) at 34.8 3pt%. He also makes the most threes per game at 1.6. And, yes, his FG% is low (38.9%) . . . but it's not like this group is any better.

When you compare him to the cumulative group of Post-Stockton (minus Deron) starters you get this:

Cumulative Starter 2004 2014 518 1368 37.9% 19.9 6.4 1.7 3.4 1.5 2.25 0.8 12.3
Trey Burke 2014 2014 28 30 93.3% 31.0 13.7 3.2 5.7 2.1 2.70 0.7 23.3
Difference 11.1 7.3 1.5 2.3 0.6 0.5 0.0 11.1

So he plays +11 mpg, scores more, rebounds more, passes more, has a better A:TO ratio, and is +11 in PASR. Trey is -1.0 fg%, but +3.5 3pt%, and +12.1 ft%. It's obvious that he is not fit for this group. These are the castaway misfit point guards that we will remember more for their personalities, and not their quantitative numbers. Earl was tough and defended like a bull dog. Ronnie was fearless and hated Fisher. Fisher sucks. Mo hit some bit shots. Devin sublimated his game for the good of the team. Maynor was supposed to be the chosen one. Howard was a professional who always did what Coach asked. Keith made the best of a bad situation and was better than "Captain Crunch Time" Milt. Raul was so so pretty. And Carlos had that PR Pride.

But Trey, is an actual starting caliber point guard.

So, the End Boss of this article has to be Deron Williams. Really. You knew it. These misfit point guards are on the same level as John Stockton and Deron Williams. Trey isn't on the same level as those misfit point guards. So how does Trey compare to Deron?

Well, they both were 21 during their rookie seasons and left college early.

  • Trey (rookie): 31.0 mpg, 13.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.7 apg, 0.7 spg, .389 / .348 / .905
  • DWill (rookie): 28.8 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 0.8 spg, .421 / .416 / .704

Trey plays more and has better stats, except for shooting from the field and downtown. If you naturalize it for both playing 36.0 mpg you get this:

  • Trey (per 36): 15.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.6 apg, 0.9 spg
  • DWill (per 36): 13.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.6 apg, 0.9 spg

Looks like Trey is winning this boss fight. What about advanced stats?

  • Trey: PER 14.6, 23.7 USG%, 31.6 AST%, 13.0 TOV%, 5.9 REB%
  • DWill: PER 12.4, 20.3 USG%, 28.6 AST%, 14.4 TOV%, 5.1 REB%

If Deron was our "Point guard of the future" back in '05, and Trey is producing better than he did, how can Trey be anything but our "Point guard of the future" now in '13-14?

Trey could be the best point guard on our team since John Stockton, not since Deron Williams. And the potential 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year has the talent and work ethic to do it. Wanna be wrong? Tell him he can't do it. And he'll prove you wrong, like he's proved all of the doubters over his entire career.

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