Michigan’s Trey Burke was the top-rated point guard in Thursday night’s NBA Draft and was expected to be a top-10 pick.
Because Utah owned only the No. 14 and No. 21 selections in the first round, it seemed unimaginable that the Jazz would be able to fill a glaring need by landing Burke.
But they did.
After Minnesota took Burke with the No. 9 pick, the Jazz traded their two first-rounders to the Timberwolves for the quarterback who led Michigan into the NCAA championship game in March.
Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey credited coach Tyrone Corbin for pushing the idea of acquiring Burke.
What did he see in his newest player?
Said Corbin: “His pick-and-roll abilities. His ability to shoot. His edge. His want to lead, to be an NBA point guard and be a significant one.”
Michigan assistant coach LaVall Jordan spoke of Burke’s intangibles as one of the keys to his success.
“The thing that you can’t measure is, he just wins, he finds a way and I don’t know how you put that in an evaluation,” Jordan told The Salt Lake Tribune.
“It’s not a measurable in terms of height, weight, field-goal percentage, any of that stuff. He’s a kid that just makes winning plays, the moment, the stage, it’s never too big for him. He’s as confident as anybody I’ve ever been around.”
The Jazz did not bring Burke to Utah for a pre-draft workout. Burke’s agent apparently limited his stops to teams picking earlier in the draft than Utah.
According to Lindsey, the Jazz interviewed Burke in Chicago and got to know him as a player and a person.
Lindsey is convinced Burke will put his standout career at Michigan behind him and work to become an elite point guard in the NBA.
“We’ve talked about the needs of our team,” he said. “We’re really excited ... and he’s excited about the opportunity here.”
In a phone interview after the draft, Burke said he was “a little surprised” about ending up in Utah.
“But God don’t make mistakes,” he said. “I feel like this is the place I need to be and where I need to start my NBA career.”
Asked what he knows about the Jazz, Burke mentioned Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, two of his future teammates.
“I’m excited going into Utah and playing with a young team with the type of talent they have,” Burke said. “I know about Derrick Favors and I love playing with centers who can attack and score. And I know Alec Burks is a really good slasher — another guy who can finish around the rim.”