Utah Jazz excited about Trey Burke, despite rough start
Orlando, Fla. • At the conclusion of the Orlando Pro Summer League, Trey Burke had a shot not to erase a week of frustration and criticism, but to ease him into the next stage of rookiedom.
Burke missed two 3-pointers in the final six seconds of the Jazz's 73-70 loss to the Indiana Pacers, one that could have won the game, the other, at the buzzer, would have tied it.
That Burke's debut ended with a miss serves as a fitting, albeit discouraging, symbol of his week among other young NBA players and league hopefuls.
"I think my performance," Burke said, "was poor."
Two weeks after the Utah Jazz boldly traded up in the NBA Draft to acquire Burke, the rookie's assessment could only fit an overall sentiment. In four games, he averaged 8.8 points, 4 assists and 2.2 turnovers. He shot just 24 percent from the field and just 1 of 19 from 3. In Thursday's game, he missed his final 11 shots. Friday, he missed five of his six attempts in the fourth quarter.
Throughout the summer league, the 6-foot Burke struggled with the speed of the NBA game, often looked lost among taller players, and consistently had his shot blocked. On Wednesday, he was held out of the lineup to watch with commentary from assistant coach Brad Jones.
The Jazz, who have preached patience in regard to their method for rebuilding, are now asking for the same when it comes to their most-studied rookie.
"People see the games and that's all they see," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We were in three days of training camp, with two-a-days. ... It was a growing process for us. I have a good feel for who he is, we know where we have to get him better in some situations. He can score the ball."
Despite a rough first week, the Jazz point guard said he likes the system the franchise is asking him to run.
"I love how they want to push the ball," Burke said, "push it in transition. And I love the pick-and-roll action obviously and the high screen at the end of the shot clock that kind of reminded me of Michigan."
In college, Burke averaged 18.6 points as a sophomore, shooting 46 percent from the floor.
"I obviously knew coming into the summer league that I wasn't going to put up the numbers I was putting up in Michigan," he said, "but I planned on coming in and just making an impact right away. My shot wasn't falling, but besides that I felt like I played pretty well."
The Jazz finished 2-3 in Orlando, closing the week with back-to-back losses to the Pacers. Asked what he liked about his team, Corbin said he was pleased to have a chance to see draft picks Raul Neto, Rudy Gobert and Burke play alongside veterans Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans.
Roster invitees such as Chris Roberts, who led the Jazz with 14.7 points per game, and Dionte Christmas could be candidates to rejoin the team for training camp in October.
Neto played in the Jazz's final three games after getting FIBA clearance. He remains under contract with a professional team in Spain and said Friday he would return to Brazil for national team duty. Despite a better-than-expected showing from the 21-year-old, whether he will play in Utah next season remains uncertain.
Gobert will also be leaving the country, but unlike Neto is guaranteed to be back. The 7-foot-1 French center will have toe surgery, but said this week he only expects a two-to-three week recovery period.
Summer league results
Sunday • Jazz 69, Miami 59
Leading scorer: Dionte Christmas, 14
Tuesday • Houston 85, Jazz 71
Leading scorer: Alec Burks, 18
Wednesday • Jazz 98, Brooklyn 69
Leading scorer: Chris Roberts 15
Thursday • Indiana 79, Jazz 73
Leading scorer: Chris Roberts, 18
Friday • Indiana 73, Jazz 70
Leading scorer: Chris Roberts, 15
Summer league notables
Trey Burke, PG • Rookie averages 8.5 points per game, but shoots just 24 percent from the field, makes 1 of 19 3-point attempts.
Chris Roberts, G • Former Bradley standout leads Jazz with 14.7 points per game.
Jeremy Evans, PF • Fourth-year veteran has a 10-point, eight-rebound, two-block performance against Houston.
Jerel McNeal, G • Signed to two 10-day contracts at the end of last season, former D-Leaguer averages eight points, two assists.
Rudy Gobert, C • The French center averages 2.4 blocks per game and his best effort is Thursday's 11-point, eight-rebound,three-block outing against Indiana.
Raul Neto, PG • He learns the offense by watching practices, and plays well despite not getting FIBA clearance until Tuesday.