Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke looking to become more of a leader following solid rookie season

Published: Monday, May 5 2014 11:15 p.m. MDT

"I think I'm a lot more comfortable than I was at the beginning of the year and adjusted. ... Playing on the big stage in college, playing in front of big crowds, I remember being nervous before the game but come the fourth quarter, by that time, I'm just playing."

Of course, there were other nights this season, too, when Burke was a complete non-factor — a 1-for-8 shooting night at Atlanta, where he scored just two points; a 1-for-7 night and just two points at Oklahoma City; another 1-for-8 shooting night at Miami, where he managed 3 points; forgettable four-point nights against Cleveland (2 for 9), Golden State (2 for 10), New York (2 for 12) and Dallas (2 for 8); a 2-for-13 shooting night against the L.A. Clippers, and a 3-for-15 night against the Lakers, when he was 0 for 8 from 3-point range.

On the flip side of that, though, Burke was almost always great at taking care of the ball, committing more than four turnovers in a game just three times all season.

And there were nights when he did a pretty good Stockton or Williams impersonation: 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in a win at Orlando; 20 points and 12 assists against Detroit; 18 points and eight assists against Denver; 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds against Portland; 24 points and 15 assists in a loss at Golden State; 20 points, six assists and zero turnovers in 35 1/2 minutes against Dallas; and 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting with five 3-pointers against Atlanta.

Yes, there were a lot of good nights — and some not so good — and quite often, a strong performance was followed in the very next game by a weak one. Thus, consistency was definitely an issue in his first NBA season.

But Jazz officials certainly liked what they saw for the most part and feel like, with time, Burke could develop into a critical component of the team's future.

"I don't think anybody thought that John Stockton was going to be an all-time great after his rookie year, as stories go," Lindsey said. "And watching Trey's growth and maturation, we've had those same conversations and posed those same challenges to our young guys. ... Trey needs to do this, Gordon (Hayward) needs to do this

"I think specifically, technically with Trey's game, he needs to finish better. I think if he finishes better — and he and (assistant coach) Johnnie (Bryant) worked really hard on that — and we actually saw some progress the last few weeks. If he works on that, that will allow his pull-up game, which is very significant, to become more of a weapon and will allow his catch-and-shoot game to be better as well.

"So I think his array of finishing, specifically finishing off one foot versus the two-foot gathers, is something that we worked on and will continue to work on this offseason," the Jazz GM said.

As for Burke, it was a season that started with the frustration of breaking his finger in the preseason — an injury that still bothers him — and ended with a flourish at Minnesota, with a lot of highs and lows, and ups and downs, in between.

"I really didn't know what to expect," he said. "It was my first year in the NBA, and everybody tells you what it's like — guys in the NBA, coaches, things like that — but you don't really know until you experience it. Then obviously getting hurt in the preseason set me back and I had to see the games from a different perspective. It was hard because I faced a lot of adversity mentally and on the court, but I think I've grown a lot since the beginning of the season.

"It hurt, because I wasn't on the court and I wanted to play, but I think it helped me out a lot, too, because it was kinda like watching film because I wasn't out there with the guys. I was able to see the games and obviously we were struggling at the time so I was just trying to find ways I could come back and contribute.

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