The past couple years we were told that Alec Burks would be our biggest “free agent” addition of the offseason. But after two more injury-plagued seasons, some had began to write him off. Could he be back for good?
CBS Sports has noticed Burks resurgence, and put out a solid endorsement for the guard out of Colorado. Finally healthy again, they see that he’s making the most of his opportunity:
After three injury-plagued seasons, Burks is fully healthy, and it's showing on the court.
He's playing the way he was four seasons ago, and the way he always knew he could once he finally got a clean bill of health. "No, I always had confidence," Burks told CBS Sports when asked if he ever got dejected during the lengthy rehab processes. "I knew that when I got healthy I could play the game at a high level, that's all I had to do. It just took longer than I thought to get healthy."...
Over the last few weeks, a now-healthy Burks is rewarding the Jazz for the faith they showed in him. Following an ankle injury to Rodney Hood, Burks has taken on an increased role, and is handling it with aplomb. In the last seven games, Burks is averaging 20.1 points on 54.9 percent shooting overall and 46.9 percent shooting from 3-point land, four rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. And during this stretch, the Jazz have a net rating of plus-17.5 points per 100 possessions with Burks on the floor, but just plus-0.2 points per 100 possessions when he sits...
"It feels really good," Snyder said before the game about seeing Burks step up. "Not just for a coach. But for teammates, for the organization, for the family. Any time somebody overcomes obstacles, there's respect that comes along with that, and there's enthusiasm. Because particularly on a daily basis when you see a guy that's worked as hard as Alec has."
I missed Alec’s best years, so watching him change his game and become the player he has this year has been awesome. He’s adjusting to the system and proving he can play in this league. To start the season his contract was a bad one. Now it’s looking like having him at about 11 million a year for this year and next could be a great deal.
Vice Sports has #TakenNote of the Alec Burks Comeback as well. They called him Utah’s Forgotten Man:
While Donovan Mitchell has blossomed into the story of their season—currently nipping Ben Simmons' heels in any legitimate Rookie of the Year leaderboard—and solid contributions have been made by newcomers like Ekpe Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha, and Jonas Jerebko, Alec Burks—Utah’s spunky, cryogenically frozen combo guard—is the volatile scoring presence off the bench this team desperately craves.
The Jazz average 113.6 points per 100 possessions with Burks on the court and just 101.4 when he sits. Here are his point totals over the last four games: 28, 24, 27, and 11 (against a brutal George/Roberson wing tandem). He's +66 in that stretch, and has earned minutes at the end of close games.
Healthy Burks is somewhat of a revelation. It feels like he signed his contract extension 17 years ago and hasn't played more than 900 minutes since 2014. Even though he looks like he's hoisting up a medicine ball whenever he launches a three, his dynamism has lifted Utah's ceiling.
We'll see if he can keep up his accurate outside shooting (teams are ducking way under on his DHO's) and stay healthy for the rest of the season, but if those two things hold the Jazz might have an explosive Sixth Man of the Year candidate on their hands.
Whether he’s a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, or is moved into the starting lineup doesn’t matter too much. He’s playing great basketball and is contributing in significant ways to winning basketball. Again, Burks comeback this year cannot be overstated and I am really happy for the guy.
Thanks for making my weekly job easier guys. We’ve only got 1 Fan Post this week, but it’s still worth your time.
oregonjazzfan wants us to assess Derrick Favors value:
So, I am not trying to trade Derrick Favors in this post. I just thought it would be a fun thought experiment to look at Favors' value around the league.
Click through and see the tiers he built and who may be interested in acquiring someone of Favor’s talent.
It’s not a Downbeat without something about everyone’s favorite rookie Donovan Mitchell. He continues to garner, no demand national attention. This time The Ringer advocated that Mitchell be given room in the ROTY conversation:
Just when it looked like Ben Simmons was destined to win Rookie of the Year, Donovan Mitchell has surged like Bitcoin. The rookie guard has seized a starting role in Utah while averaging 24.4 points on a 59.6 effective field goal percentage over his past eight games.
Mitchell became the NBA’s new favorite young player after dropping 41 points on December 1 against the Pelicans. He drained monster 3s off the dribble, flashed his athleticism while scoring at the rim, created open looks for teammates, and defended well. It was like watching a young Dwyane Wade...
Mitchell improved his ballhandling ability by adding crossovers and change-of-pace dribbles as a sophomore at Louisville, and he has continued to hone his craft this season. His better handle has allowed him to stroke shots off the dribble at a more efficient clip. Although he’s played only 27 games, Mitchell has flashed superstar potential through his ability to score against any type of defense. His next test will be doing it against defenses game-planning specifically to stop him.
I’m going to be so bold and say that Spida Man figures it out despite defenses best efforts. He’ll hit the eventual rookie wall and still have nights where he struggles, but this kid is special and the Jazz are lucky to have him. Thank you Denver!
Bonus DM content:
They came to the conclusion that Utah wouldn’t trade Mitchell for the #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. There’s also good discussion in there about Favors and Gobert and how they fit on the Jazz. The age old debate: can Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors share the floor together?
The Jazz had a random 3 days off in the middle of their road trip, so there isn’t another game until tomorrow. That doesn’t mean they didn’t stay busy.
I’m sure other teams do plenty of community outreach as well, but I love seeing how much Jazz players give back to their communities. It looks like they were able to bring some smiles to people that could use them and brightened days during the holiday season.