Point Guard, 6’2″, 185 lbs.
20 years old
2012-13 Stats: 18.6 PPG (46.3% FG, 80.1% FT, 38.4% 3FG), 3.2 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 2.2 TOPG
STRENGTHS: This past season’s consensus National Player of the Year, Burke lead Michigan to the Championship game with an excellent combination of scoring abilities and floor general skills. He’s this draft’s most complete package at the point, combining a nice shooting ability with a high basketball IQ and excellent handles.
Burke was a playmaking point guard first and a scorer second at Michigan and that should continue in the NBA. He had a 3/1 assist to turnover ratio, and his 11.1% turnover rate is the second highest among the draft’s point guards. By all accounts, he was both the leader on and off the court for Michigan, and will hopefully continue to be so in the NBA.
He’s an improved shooter, and while he will need to continue to develop his efficiency, he’s dynamic at the deep ball especially in pick-in-roll situations when the defender attempts to go under the screen.
Most importantly, he has an IT factor for his game. He provided the highlight of the NCAA season against Kansas with late game-tying three that completed a monster comeback and propelled the Wolverines to the Final Four. His high basketball IQ combined with a general confidence and swagger give him an edge on many other more athletically gifted opponents.
WEAKNESSES: One of the biggest concerns about Burke remains his height, although it became a less pronounced concern when he measured at 6’1 without shoes. That moves him out of the slightly-taller-than-Isaiah-Thomas range and squarely into the Chris Paul range, which is less concerning defensively (as Kings fans well know, Thomas is a liability on defensive despite his efforts).
Burke isn’t a dynamic athlete—he’s moderately quick and a bit underwhelming as a leaper. His combine results (36.5 max vertical, 11.20 seconds for the lane agility test and 3.16 seconds for the ¾ court sprint) are comparable to those of Atlanta’s Jeff Teague when he entered the league four seasons ago in 2009. Burke won’t beat out all of the NBA’s point guards athletically but he should be solid enough.
While he’s a very solid shooter, he’ll still need to improve. While he’ll be remembered for his clutch performance against Kansas (23 points, 10 assists, 9-21 shooting) he wasn’t nearly so sharp in the entirety of the tournament (he averaged 15.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 turnovers and 36.5% shooting).
The biggest concern is his defense. Michigan was never a defensive squad all season and Burke was never an above-average defender. At times he just couldn’t keep up with his man, and at other times he showed less than full determination on that end of the court. With Mike Malone at the Kings helm now, it’d be interesting to see a Burke transition under the defensive minded Malone.
HOW HE’D FIT WITH THE KINGS: If the Kings decide that Isaiah Thomas is not the permanent fixture of the future at the point, Burke is as logical a fit as you’d find in the draft. He’s a unselfish floor general and gives Sacramento a real pass-first point guard who isn’t afraid to shoot when needed. His assist rate of 37.3% is third amongst draftable prospects, behind Syracuse’s’ Michael Carter-Williams at 40.1% (check out our piece on him here) and Baylor’s Pierre Jackson with 40.7%.
BRYANT – Yes, absolutely. Burke would be an upgrade at the point, allowing the Kings to move Isaiah Thomas to the Bobby Jackson role (no slight to Isaiah, who remains my favorite King) and move Jimmer Fredette to SG. Burke is currently 5th on my big board (behind Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo) and I expect he’ll be a fringe top-10 NBA point guard in a few years.
My single issue here – reign in those expectations, Kings fans. Burke has become the draft’s second most overrated prospect in my mind (behind Louisville center Gorgui Dieng). Burke is not the next Chris Paul—more likely, he’s the next Jeff Teague, which is just fine.
SCOTT LEVIN - Yes. By no means should Isaiah Thomas be cast aside, but Burke brings everything I look for in a point guard. The fact that he emerged as a true team leader as just a sophomore is super impressive. He commands his team, conducts an offense and is a dynamic scorer with room to grow as he gets stronger. His 6’5″ wingspan alleviates some concerns on the defensive end — he can play bigger and use the length to disrupt faster guards. I love guys that aren’t rattled on the biggest stage, and Burke clearly showed that he has ice water in his veins. He’d form a great combo with IT — two fearless, hard-working floor generals who could lead the Kings new brand of basketball.
WHERE HE GOES: Burke has already set a workout with Orlando, who holds the 2nd pick. From there, the next PG needy team could be New Orleans (6), but they have Greivis Vásquez and he’s a solid, improving player. Having him fall to the Kings at 7 seemed like a long shot originally, but seems like a better possibility if Orlando doesn’t take him. Should he pass by the Kings, he’ll enter a stretch of teams who already have PGs before hitting Dallas (13) and Utah (14). Falling out of the top 10 seems nearly impossible, though.