Just three years ago, Trey Burke looked like he was going to be the next great NBA point guard. After a stellar career at the university of Michigan where he was the 2013 National College Player of the Year, Burke has underachieved in his first three seasons with the Utah Jazz. This summer, the Jazz were ready to move on. The team that was willing to give up two first round picks for Burke, gave him away for just a second round pick in 2021.
From the Wizards perspective, they were able to buy low on Burke, who is still only 23 years old and still has a chance to revitalize his NBA career playing behind John Wall. So what will he be able to provide for the Wizards this season?
Burke's biggest responsibility will be running the offense when Wall rests. He's known as a shoot-first point guard, but he has shown a willingness to pass. He has averaged 4.2 assists per game in his career but those numbers steadily declined during his time in Utah. Burke started off strong, with 9.2 assists per 100 possessions his rookie season but that number has plummeted all the way down to just 5.7 last year. As a reserve, he may not rack up big assist numbers next season, but his ability to keep the ball moving when the second unit is on the court will be crucial to the Wizards' success this season.
Another area Burke needs to show improvement is his shooting. Two seasons ago, Burke shot just 36 percent from the floor and 31 percent on threes. He had a true shooting percentage of just 45 percent and an effective field goal percentage of just 43 percent. The good news for Burke is he was able to improve all of these stats this past season. Burke's shooting will be an important factor for the Wizards this season as it will help spread the floor out creating penetration lanes and open up the rest of the offense.
Perhaps the biggest area of concern for Burke going forward is his defense. Burke can improve all he wants offensively but if he still struggles to guard at the NBA level, he and the Wizards both won't be able to reach their full potential. In terms of Defensive RPM, Burke ranked 78th of 81 point guards with a -2.5 DRPM, one spot behind Kyrie Irving. The only players who finished worse were Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Zach LaVine and J.J. Barea, who all have established themselves in the League as subpar defenders.
The good news for Wizards fans is that this is a contract year for Burke. We have seen time and time again that average players thrive the year before their new contract is up to prove they deserve a significant raise. That being said, Burke won't be guaranteed much in terms of playing time if he struggles. With Tomas Satoransky making his anticipated NBA debut, the Wizards will easily be able to move on from Burke if they feel he isn't meeting their expectations. NBA players can only get so many chances to prove they belong as key rotation pieces let alone in the league. Expectations are now lower on Burke in Washington as compared to Utah where he was pegged as the guy who would turn around the struggling Jazz. But if Burke wants to prove he not only can play in this league but thrive as well, this may be his last chance.