At the end of his rookie season rookie Alec Burks is still a very difficult player to make an NBA comp. Part of the difficultly in an over loaded and evidentially very unhappy wing position Burks only got 939 minutes of playing time. If he had played an 82 game season you have assumed about 1,100 minutes which is close to the 1,200 you would like from a rookie #12 pick.
I ran a basketball-reference comparison for Burks and interestingly almost every player that came up was 22 or 23 years old. Therefore, I put a new filter on the comp and made the player 20 or younger. The filters were a guard or forward who per 36 minutes averaged at least 15 pts, 5 rebs and 2 asts.
Then I added shot below 45.9% from the field and below 35% from three so we wouldn’t get only those players that were his upside.
The list was unreal, Chris Paul, John Drew, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Lamar Odom, Luol Deng, Larry Hughes, Russell Westbrook, Antoine Walker and DeMarcus Cousins.
Minutes played become difficult because most of the comps played over 2,000 minutes. The only players that played between 900 and 2,000 minutes were James Harden (1738), Luol Deng (1663) and Larry Hughes (939).
Chris Paul, Lamar Odom, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker play very different games than Burks so eliminated them on the eye test. John Drew and Carmelo Anthony both are post centric in a lot of their offensive games.
The reaming players are Tyreke Evans, Larry Hughes, James Harden, Luol Deng and Russell Westbrook. Harden and Evans rookie years were considerably more efficient and Harden used 31% of his possessions to sot a three whereas Burks was just 10%.
This left me with Deng, Westbrook, and Hughes,
Let’s dig into some of the comps.
Westbrook was 39.8% shooter and 27% from three. Westbrook win share was just 1.9 and Burks was 1.5 despite far less time. Westbrook averaged 16.9 pts per 36 mins and Burks was 16.3; Westbrook was 5.4 rebs per 36 and Burks was 5.1. Westbrooks assists were much higher at 5.9 to 2.1.
Looking at the Locke numbers, Westbrook Locke offensive ranking was -2.7 and Burks was better at .7. Burks used more possessions to go to the line as a rookie and both shot the three sparingly. Because, Westbrook was a point guard he turned the ball over a ton so that skews his numbers a bit.
The largest difference is Burks was used in a limited fashion 7 scoring opportunities a game and Westbrook had 15.7.
Larry Hughes might be the best comparable here and it is also the least flattering. They both played the same amount of minutes and as you look at the chart they used possessions almost identically.
If you don’t remember Hughes he was a 6’5 184 pound shooting guard who was terrific defensively and never quite figured out how to shoot. For most of his career he averaged 15 pts a game rarely shooting anything other than low 40% and mid 30’s for three. In his best years he got to the line a ton and at 26 years old averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals( #1 in the NBA). Pretty fabulous season.
Hughes was oft injured and slowed down dramatically as his career went on. In his prime years he never played more than 73 games and was usually in the 60’s. He finished averaging 14 pts, 4 rebounds, 3 assists ad shooting 41% from the field and 30% from three.
Deng at 6’8 is more of a three than Burks and therefore it is hard to believe that Burks could ever rebound at the level Deng has in the NBA, 6 to7 a game. The other areas project well in year 2 Deng got up to 2600 minutes and averaged 14 pts and 2 ast while still struggling with the three at 27%. In year 3, traditionally the year where a career is set, he averaged 19 pts and completely stopped shooting the three, only taking 7 increasing his free throw attempts one per game.
Finally, Burks used 13.4% of his possessions at the free throw line this year. That is superior to all of aforementioned rookies other than Paul and Drew.
After a year Burks sits somewhere between Larry Hughes, Luol Deng and Russell Westbrook. They all seem very promising.