Nobody expects him to admit it, but when Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke fell to the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, you have to wonder if he was a little disappointed. For the player who said after the draft lottery that he expected to be picked as high as No. 2 overall, this was a sign some teams didn't buy his ability to be a starting point guard.
Utah always felt like a logical fit for the former Michigan star, though, and now we're seeing the fruits of a partnership in motion. The Jazz badly needed a point guard who could come in quickly and make an impact this season; Burke seemed excited to join a team equipped with teammates ready to help him win ballgames. In December, after battling a broken finger early, it came together with a Western Conference Rookie of the Month award.
The numbers, all things considered, were solid for Burke in December: 14.8 points on 41 percent shooting (37 percent from three), 5.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and only 1.9 turnovers per game. But more importantly, he's created some stability for a flailing Utah team, leading it to a 6-5 record in the month.
Burke was at his best on Dec. 18 against the Orlando Magic, scoring a career-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and eight assists. He completely outplayed Victor Oladipo, the former Indiana star who Orlando selected seven picks ahead of Burke in the draft, that night. But the games before and after that outburst reveal Burke's inconsistency: 51 minutes, five points, seven assists and two losses for Utah.
And that's where the conundrum of Trey Burke begins and ends: he's talented enough to make an impact and help a team in need, but he's too undersized and inconsistent to completely change a team's fortunes. When he's on the court, the Jazz are undoubtedly better -- by 3.8 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com, to be exact -- but he struggles to score near the basket and a really solid mid-range game doesn't entirely make up for that.
For Utah, this may be exactly what the team expected. Before the draft, people said Burke was skilled but short -- that's pretty much exactly what's happened. And yet, he's still useful, he's still making an impact and, when you have no other point guard, he's something like a difference-maker. Given the way the 2013 draft appears to be headed, that's a pretty solid pick. It's hard to imagine many teams being as happy with their picks as Utah.