Wednesday night, in an odd word, was breathtaking. Trey Burke returned for the Utah Jazz as they took on the New Orleans Pelicans for the first of three games on the road. I had completely forgotten what it was like to watch a point guard with complete point guard skills. Burke hit jump shots, finished at the rim and even managed to make the pick n’ roll look like we were actually watching Jazz basketball.
In just under 12 minutes, Burke made five of eight shots including a masterful three pointer in the fourth quarter. He led the team well and didn’t turn the ball over. For an NBA debut (coming off injury no less) Burke’s game was very impressive. I don’t think Jazz fans could’ve expected anything more from the rookie.
As a Jazz fan, it’s painful to watch the Jazz struggle at running the offense. We’d become so accustomed to Deron Williams finding Carlos Boozer or John Stockton throwing a perfectly executed bounce pass to Karl Malone, that this season has been a bit of a shock. The Jazz no longer have Jerry Sloan on the sidelines directing veteran players in a well-oiled offense, but rather, a number of young players who are learning how to play basketball on a professional level. There are flashes of brilliance that can get fans excited, but ultimately, it’s been dismal. Burke will help.
“It felt good out there,” Burke said to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Just trying to get the pace of the game, trying to get my wind back up. I think those are the biggest areas. Obviously, it was a loss, which is unfortunate. We hate losing.”
He thinks it felt good? Jazz fans were beyond relieved to see the 21-year old suit up and finally get his first NBA action. The losses will pile up this year, but that will change. Burke will (likely) get an elite back court mate in the form of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, and that’s when the wins will start to accumulate. People forget that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook went through the exact same thing the Jazz are currently battling. While I’m not comparing these elite players to the young Jazz players, it takes time to gel and win. Years even.
“I thought he did great. I thought he looked in tune and ready to get the ball in his hands,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin told the Deseret News about Burke’s return. “Unfortunately, we were restricted with the minutes for him and had to take him out. But he felt good, he looked good, so I’m happy for him.”
Soon enough, Burke’s minute restrictions will disappear and the ninth overall pick will be back where he belongs. In the starting lineup. I expect to see many more quick drives, fadeaway jumpers after a cross over and pin point passes to a rolling-to-the-basket Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors. Burke showed in college that he has the clutch gene and the motivation to be successful. So, it’s only a matter of time until the hard working Burke is breaking down NBA defenses like it’s the NCAA tournament.