|Trey Burke is projected as the first guard off the board in the NBA Draft. (Associated Press)|
Position: Point Guard
DraftExpress Prediction: No. 6 in the first round, No. 6 overall to the New Orleans Pelicans
Synopsis: Burke led a heavily hyped Michigan squad to the national championship game, officially announcing the Wolverines' return to college basketball's highest level. Several times at the end of the regular season, Burke exhibited an intangible that makes coaches and scouts salivate: the clutch gene. Whether it was a making a late shot to clinch a game or send it to overtime or forcing a turnover that took away an opponent's last hope at winning, Burke repeatedly showed his ability to perform on both ends of the court when the atmosphere is at its most tense. This is perhaps just as important as any of his skills with a basketball, especially considering his short stature (5'11.75" without shoes; 6'1.25" with shoes) and lean 187-pound frame.
Burke's skills speak for themselves. He creates like a traditional point guard (7.7 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted), especially excelling at finding teammates in transition with a 4.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio on the fast break, which is good because his transition scoring is not ideal. However, Burke more than makes up for it in half-court sets, in which he executes well off the dribble and creates his own shot, often preferring to efficiently knock down pull-up jumpers rather than finishing at the rim. That would be an issue for most guards, but Burke is at home in the mid-range, as one of the few areas where his game could stand to improve is behind the arc, where he shot a paltry 38.3 percent as a sophomore, up from 34.8 percent as a freshman.
Burke's ability to score in multiple ways, as well as find shots for teammates all over the court, is complemented by the 1.9 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted he compiled last season. His quick hands — the masters of his crafty ball-handling and fantastic passing — make Burke a capable ball-hawk on defense, but his size could be a problem when it comes to defending point guards of typical NBA size, who will likely stand several inches taller than him and could either work Burke into post-up situations or use their superior length to put the Michigan product on his heels. Teams have done worse than settling for such a good offensive weapon and forsaking some defense, however.
Quote to note: "On the court, in my opinion, it's totally different. Change of speed with the ball and things like that, I feel like that's a natural strength of mine, honestly. If you watch back at Michigan — even though this is another level — a lot of the times when I got to the rim, it was from change of speed, ball-handling and just craftiness. I feel like I am just as athletic as the guys my size. I don't feel like I'm a super-athlete, like Derrick Rose." - Trey Burke on his comparable athleticism after a pre-draft workout with the Sacramento Kings.
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