Las Vegas Summer League 2014:
Tournament Preview - Roster - Schedule
What to watch - Gobert's defense - Clark's reminder - Rookie's first steps - Burke's team
Today is the first game of the Las Vegas Summer League for our Jazz. And it comes on the same day that the Utah Jazz announced they will match Gordon Hayward's contract. And it comes after a great NBA Draft where the team picked up Dante Exum, and Rodney Hood. And it takes place in the city where Ian Clark's pro career really took off. And everything that happens is in the shadow of Derrick Favors as the face of the franchise.
But you know what?
This really is Trey Burke's team to lead. And I don't just mean the summer league squad where their fortunes almost uniformly rest upon his (highly appreciated on Instagram) shoulders. I mean for the 2014-15 Utah Jazz. It only makes sense. Our team is coached by a point guard, and going to install a new offense. (Btw, some Jazz fans haven't noticed it yet -- but this is going to be the first time in over two decades that we're running something OTHER than the Dick Motta / Frank Layden / Jerry Sloan Flex Offense. Change is coming.) And within that offense you know who is going to have the ball in their hands the most?
The starting point guard.
And unless you forgot, that is Trey Burke. Trey, the former Mr. Ohio Basketball; Big Ten Freshman of the Year; Big Ten Player of the Year; Bob Cousy Award winner; Oscar Robertson Trophy winner; John R. Wooden Award winner; Naismith Player of the Year;, AP Player of the Year; NCAA Player of the Year; Consensus 1st Team All-American; NBA Skills Challenge Champion; and NBA All-Rookie 1st Team member, is the best point guard on the team.
And while G-Time got paid and was the point forward last year, and while Dante Exum was drafted Top 5 this year, they both aren't the best point guard on this team.
You don't have to be a miserable person, or a concerned NBA agent, to understand that when you get one of the best point guards in the game you are almost going way out of your way to be bad on the court by taking the ball out of his hands. And that's what happened last season.
Sure, Burke is capable and deadly off the ball, and he's going to have to share the ball quite a bit this year with guys like Hayward, Exum, and Alec Burks. And the coach is going to be generous and creative with his schemes and playing time. But out of everyone on the roster he's the most clutch guy. And he's the guy who has faced the most pressure as the point guard before. G-Time was part of a NCAA Final four squad -- but he also had another future NBA player on that team, and that guy was the point guard who had to break the press and get the team into the offense.
Dante grew up always being the best player on every team he played on, but it's not like he had to go into Bloomington, Indiana or East Lansing, Michigan on the road and have 20 thousand fans yell at him and cuss him out as he went to the free throw line.
There's one guy who is a diamond on our team, hardened through heat and pressure. And that's the guy who is going to be the on the court leader, and extension of the coach on the floor. He's not going to be the guy who takes the most shots, makes the flashiest of plays, but when push comes to shove, he's going to be the guy pushing his team mates to shove back. That's what a leader does. And someone who isn't afraid to yell at vets as a rookie is the guy you want leading this team.
Yeah, I get it. Hayward got 5 apg last year, and Exum has probably more potential. But there's more to being a leader than stats and draft express videos. And one guy has proved his leadership ability at every level of the game, and it's the same guy who led our team to close wins this year. (If you remove the randomness of highly performing games due to statistically outstanding shooting, it was Burke who led the team to the Ws, not someone else.)
In the summer league these games are important. And for Trey Burke more-so. We talk about Rodney Hood 's chip on his shoulder. Don't think his is bigger than Trey Burke, who got passed on by the Detroit Pistons, who NEEDED a point guard at that point. Trey will forever be fighting against his draft pick number. No one has the hardware that he has. And he earned that hardware from his play.
And as the point guard, it's all about confidence and leadership. Go ask Quin Snyder who was the PG of a team that went to three final fours in four years. He'll tell you I'm right.
As a result, it's clear that while other guys have the TV Ads or the big paychecks, it's Trey's team to lead. And this team will rise with him, as he's ready to put his stamp on the NBA in his second year. We all remember Deron Williams' rise in his second year. And Trey is statistically a better player. So watch out.