Utah Jazz: NBA taking notice of Jazz rookie Trey Burke

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17 2013 8:05 p.m. MST

ORLANDO — It’s no secret statistics can be deceiving. Exhibit A: The numbers Trey Burke put up against the Miami Heat could lead you to believe the rookie is a bust.

Truth be told, Burke did have a dud of a game against fellow Ohio native LeBron James and the two-time defending champs, including an NBA-low three points on 1-of-8 shooting in Monday’s 117-94 blowout loss.

Even Burke admitted it was a clunker.

Add more evidence, though, and it’s clear that this first-year player is putting together a very nice body of work in his inaugural professional season since a broken finger delayed his debut.

Exhibit B: Three 20-point performances in his first 15 games.

Exhibit C: Rising assist numbers.

Exhibit D: Playing a key role in the Jazz’s vastly improved offense since his insertion into the lineup.

Exhibit E: Rookie of the Year consideration after beginning his career with averages of 12.4 points, 4.9 assists and just 1.2 turnovers.

Well-respected people around the NBA are taking notice.

In the past week, the 2013 NCAA player of the year has been spoken highly of by the likes of four-time MVP James, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the Nuggets’ new bench boss, Brian Shaw.

The more Burke plays, the more NBA fans the former Michigan star picks up.

While in Denver, Shaw said he was impressed with what he saw while scouting Burke, who then went on to tally a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists in Utah’s 103-93 upset win. The ex-NBA player credited Burke for being integral in pushing Michigan to the NCAA championship game and for adapting his pick-and-roll abilities and offensive execution skills to his new job.

“You have a point guard who has a good feel for the game,” Shaw said. “Although he is a rookie, (Burke) has a real good feel for the game and a good understanding of the game. … I think he takes pressure off a lot of the other guys. He sets the table for them, makes it easier for them.”

Burke got more praise Saturday night from the best in the business after his Jazz-leading 20-point outing versus San Antonio.

“He’s got a great demeanor. He doesn’t get excited about a good play or get down because there was a mistake. He plays,” Popovich said. “He plays with his teammates. He’s under control. He’s aggressive. He’s a fine young player.”

Burke said his cool-headed approach is just how he is, how he’s always been. And he knows that he needs to keep his calm demeanor to be the most effective leader in his point guard role.

“It’s natural. I think me playing my position, I’ve got to be a poised guy out there. My teammates feed off of me,” Burke said. “Point guard is kind of like quarterback out there on the court. I felt like that’s something I need to show. I need to be poised out there on the court. I need to be able to make plays on the team. When things don’t go right I need to be under control and not show any type of emotions. I think that’s just something I’ve always had from a young age.”

The Jazz noticed that from him at Michigan. It’s one of the reasons why the organization traded two first-round picks to acquire the No. 9 selection on draft night from Minnesota.

“That’s the one of the things you look for in the young guys, especially the point guard,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “If they can play steady, they can be great. For the most part, he has been pretty steady.”

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