Nerves would have been understandable.
Plenty of rookies would have struggled with them — especially in his first real taste of the NBA, especially facing off against a star like Stephen Curry. Utah’s Trey Burke admitted that he felt the nerves, the excitement, but only after his team had left the floor with the win.
It was only preseason, sure, but Burke left his veteran backup, John Lucas III, impressed.
“He let the game come to him,” Lucas said. “When I saw that, I was like, ‘Young fella’s gonna be OK. Young fella’s gonna be all right.’ I think he’s going to be a star in this league.”
If that’s going to be the case, Burke will have another chance to prove it against top competition Friday, as the Jazz continue their preseason schedule in Boise against the Portland Trail Blazers and reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
“I’m very excited,” said Burke, who described himself as a Lillard “fan.” “This is what I expected coming into the league. Every night, you can’t relax. It’s no longer college.”
He may not be in a classroom, but the education of Trey Burke continues.
“We talked about it during the summer, during training camp,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Every night you’re going up against All-Star guys. Especially for him, the first time seeing these guys in an NBA setting, the first impression means something.”
The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft left more than just Lucas impressed Tuesday night, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists in a 101-78 win over Golden State on Tuesday. Corbin was pleased with how his rookie floor general overcame a slow start and started knocking down jump shots, helping to erase the memories of going 1 for 19 from beyond the arc in summer league.
Still, Corbin said, there’s plenty of work left to do. As the national college basketball player of the year last season, Burke averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists a night for the Michigan Wolverines.
Scoring chances will come, but Corbin wants his point guard to become a better facilitator for the team.
“That’s going to be a balance for him,” the coach said. “It’s going to take him a while. He’s been a guy who’s been such a dynamic scorer in his career. That’s what he’s used to doing. That’s his first instinct. But he’s trying to understand the importance of finding his teammates, find his teammates early and that will free him up more as the game goes on.”
Burke is still working to understand the intricacies of the Jazz offense, but he said he’s making progress every day toward knowing the new system and where his teammates will be on the floor. It’s been a change from his system in college, which he said offered him “a little more freedom.”
“Now I have to learn how to get guys involved more and just try to get my teammates going,” Burke said.
The youngster hasn’t been shy to ask for help, Lucas said. Burke has come to him with questions about play design, defensive positioning and terminology.
“I’m not going to come in here and act like I know everything,” Burke said. “The advice that they give, I try to soak it all in.”
That’s another thing that has Lucas impressed.
“Most guys that come in that are high draft picks think they know everything, think they can play,” Lucas said. “He’s coming in like, ‘I want to be better. I want to be the best PG in the NBA.’ That was his mentality. That’s exactly what he told me the first day I met him.”
Jazz vs. Trail Blazers
P At CenturyLink Arena (Boise, Idaho)
Tipoff • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • None
Radio • 1280 AM/97.5 FM
Preseason records • Utah 1-0; Portland 0-2
About the Jazz • Opened the preseason with a win over a Golden State team playing its third game in four nights. … Jazz had six double-digit scorers, including rookie point guard Trey Burke, in the victory. … After preaching defense during training camp, the Jazz held the Warriors to 32.6 percent shooting. … Jazz are still carrying 20 players and will have to cut to 15 before the season starts. … Brandon Rush (left knee) and Marvin Williams (right achilles) are out for Utah.
About the Trail Blazers • Portland will provide a number of reunion opportunities for Utah. Point guards Mo Williams and Earl Watson played for the Jazz last season. Shooting guard Wesley Matthews played for Utah in 2009-10. … Portland’s starting point guard, reigning rookie of the year Damian Lillard, played at Weber State University. … The Blazers are coming off a 104-98 loss Wednesday to the Phoenix Suns and new head coach Jeff Hornacek.