Utah Jazz notebook: Alec Burks enjoys getting a shot at point guard
SALT LAKE CITY — Alec Burks is 6-foot-6, almost a foot taller than the average man.
But the 20-year-old started playing hoops long before his growth spurt, a scenario he believes prepared him to help fill point guard voids.
Listed as a shooting guard, Burks also feels at home taking the point.
"I've been there all my life," he said. "I wasn't tall at first, so I had to play point guard, so it came natural to me."
General manager Kevin O'Connor lauded Burks' ballhandling and playmaking capabilities in the preseason when it wasn't certain who the team's third point guard would be.
Because of injuries to starter Devin Harris (strained left hamstring) and backup Earl Watson (sprained left ankle), Burks got his first extended professional point guard opportunity in Thursday's 119-101 loss at Golden State.
A five-point deficit turned into a 14-point disadvantage during a key stretch in the second half with Burks at point and Tinsley resting.
But Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wasn't critical of his first-year player's effort. Burks finished with seven points, two rebounds, one turnover and no assists in 14 minutes. (Tinsley had 13 assists in 34 minutes during his first Jazz start).
"It's a learning experience for him, but give him credit. … I thought he did good," Corbin said. "It's a tough situation for a young guy, a lot of pressure on him. I thought he did a pretty good job, especially on the defensive end."
Burks gets opportunities to run the point in practices, when the Jazz split into three teams for scrimmages and in three-on-three drills.
Burks also logged time as floor general in his two seasons at Colorado.
"It wasn't nothing new to me," he said. "I think it was the first time (NBA) fans or people saw me play point guard."
Burks has averaged 11.2 minutes per game his rookie season, so he'll take what he can get.
"Whatever time I'm getting," he said, "I'm trying to get out there — do my thing, be aggressive."
Heck, if it meant more P.T., he'd even play center if asked.
"I'll do whatever," he said, smiling. "Whatever I've got to do to get on the court."
COMFORT ZONE?: Gordon Hayward has played shooting guard this past week with Raja Bell being out injured. Coincidentally, Hayward has tallied a streak of four-straight double-digit scoring games (16.5 ppg), including a team-high 21 in Oakland.
That has more to do with more scoring opportunities and his shots falling than a position change, though.
"In our system, it's really not that much of a difference (between shooting guard and small forward). It's just a matter of who you're guarding defensively," the 6-8 Hayward said. "There's a couple of plays where you're in a different spot. I'm comfortable with the two and comfortable with the three.. Whatever coach needs me to do."
TV TWEAKS: The Jazz lost one national TV game and gained two others. ESPN dropped the Utah-Phoenix game on March 14, but NBA TV picked up the Jazz's road games in Indiana, the Feb. 7 Hayward homecoming, and in Philadelphia on March 9.
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