The Utah Jazz had a bumper crop of draft picks over the last few seasons. They selected at #9 in the 2010 NBA Draft. A few months after that they traded for #3 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Derrick Favors. The next summer they had two more lotto picks, the #3 , and #12 . The follow year they moved up for #9 , and stole at #27. In 2014 they had yet another lotto pick in #5 , and found a way to pick up at #22. And last season they once again had a lotto pick, and selected #12. Those are a lot of good, young players. Not all of them have panned out.
Enes Kanter was traded for some stale airline peanuts and' expiring contract. Trey Burke hasn't been a headline maker save for a few game winners and some NBA All-Star Saturday night hardware. Dante Exum did not impress as a rookie, and is missing his entire second season right now. And Trey Lyles is, well, he's going to be a rotation player in two to three seasons from now.
Rodney Hood is a starter, along with Dante when he's healthy. And both of those young guys share a starting lineup with Hayward, Favors, and Gobert -- our "Big Three". The one guy who has ridiculous talent -- but somehow doesn't start -- is Alec Burks. But he's returning from a season ending shoulder injury this year and he has become and even more deadly version of himself.
He's not a starter. But he's a damn fine finisher.
So much so that his performances on offense in the second half of games so far this season have been spectacular. Sure, he's not killing it since his slump and earlier on his numbers were greater (but because I'm bad at being a homer, I held off on this until we had 25 games under the belt). But the evidence still suggests that on a team that struggles on offense, and nearly falls apart in the fourth quarter when the defense turns up . . . it's good to have a guy like Alec on your team.
His individual scoring ability is something we may be taking for granted. What I love is the raw data -- his Points per Shot (PPS) and Points per Minute (PPM) ramp up in the second half. His last few 4th quarters have been bad, but overall his second half performances really keep the defense on their heels.
What is really startling is that he scores only 2.24 ppg and plays on 5.32 mpg in the first quarter. The first quarter isn't always one the team wins. And Alec really isn't in it long enough to make any impact. The second and third quarters though? Man. He is a lot to handle.
In the second quarter he's averaging 8.36 / 12.00 mins and firing from deep to the success rate of .4783. In the third quarter he's scoring with a 1.40 PPS value -- that's Karl Malone like in efficiency. The fourth quarter isn't great; however, when you look at the games you see something crazy. It's not something I like, and I'm an Alec Burks fan. It's that he seems to make the shots when they matter most. He may have missed his last two or three shots, when when the team needs a score he will take a shot and it will go in.
Of course, there are examples where this did not work out (the Toronto game road trip for example), but that's why the eyeball test is unreliable. We remember that shot more than the other ones he did make this season in a similar situation with under 2:00 minutes in the game that went in. I'm not happy about his success rate because they seem to be pull up jumpers from midrange in the halfcourt. If they miss, it's a horrible shot. If it goes in, it's gravy.
Fortunately for Alec, in the second half it's been pretty much gravy all season long. He's scoring more than half a point per minute, and doing it at a way above average efficiency rate (league average for 30 years is 1.21 PPS, he's at 1.26 in the second half of games).
Alec Burks is an assassin. You don't lead with one. But you finish with one. And Quin Snyder really gets Alec, and knows how to use him. And after 25 games, even with a bad slump, he's someone who can hurt the other team a little bit more than some people think he hurts the team he plays for. And that's a start : ) -- even if Alec is all about the finish.