“The biggest thing is just playing with confidence,” he said. “In Orlando, I don’t think I played with the type of confidence that I’m used to playing with. I know I’m a good player. I know if I play with confidence that I can definitely help the team win.”
Watching teammates live and in film sessions, picking the brains of players and coaches, and just soaking in the scene from some of the best seats in the arena helped him in ways playing couldn’t.
That’s not to take away from on-the-job experience, of course. But the Jazz are encouraged that Burke made good use of his delayed career kickoff.
“I thought he did a great job last night transferring it into the game,” Corbin said.
A day later, the playmaker’s finger was a bit sore but mostly good. As long as it remains taped to his middle finger, Burke said he “can’t even really tell it’s there.”
Two problems from his debut?
First, the Jazz dropped their fourth straight game, making them 1-12 overall and 0-1 on Burke’s clock.
“I’m devastated every time we lose, believe it or not,” Burke said. “Even though (the season’s) 82 games, it takes a toll on guys when you continue to lose.”
Lucas, the veteran brought in this offseason to help mentor and back up Burke, was struck with how intent the Jazz rookie was about becoming the best point guard in the game when they first met.
The youngster, who led Michigan to the NCAA championship game last April, was also open about his goal to become rookie of the year a season after just about sweeping every collegiate award.
“Right now, being 1-12, I’m really not thinking about it (rookie of the year). I know those things take care of itself if we start winning, first and foremost (and) second of all, if I go out there and play confident,” Burke said. “Obviously, everybody has personal goals, but right now it’s all about the team with me.”
Burke was nothing but complimentary of Carter-Williams, who has an early lead for the rookie merit. The 6-foot-6 point guard from Syracuse is averaging 16.6 points, 7.4 assists and 5.4 rebounds for the Sixers.
“Guys always like to compare the rookies and compare specifically me and Carter-Williams because we play the same position,” said Burke, who was drafted two spots ahead of his fellow rookie. “He’s just a magnificent player.”
Jazz brass are confident Burke will also develop magnificently. That’s why they gave up their 14th and 21st picks in June and dubbed him as their point guard of the future alongside the team’s returning young talent.
In the present, Corbin is just excited to have Burke back in the mix. The rookie was limited to 5-6 minute stretches Wednesday, but the hope is he’ll be able to play longer tonight at Dallas. At some point, he’ll move back into the starting lineup where he was in the first three games of the preseason before the injury.
“He was going good (Wednesday). He wanted to stay in, but we were on a restriction, so we had to take him out,” Corbin said. “You want to be careful with him and give him time to get himself acclimated back to the game speed.”
Burke laughed when recalling his rehab process that helped him get back before his six-week post-operation medical check-up next Monday.
“Guys (were) clowning to me, ‘Man, you can just tape that up (and play),’ ” Burke said. “I’m like, ‘Nah, it was worse than what you think.’ I knew it was probably going to be 4-7 weeks.”
Somehow, Burke managed to stay positive during that rehab period, which began with him being banned from running and having to wear a hand brace for several weeks. Eventually, he increased his exercise from a stationary bike to running. He was gradually allowed to dribble and shoot before the medical staff cleared him to practice at full speed Tuesday.
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