NEW YORK – When Trey Burke committed to Michigan, the Wolverines still had Darius Morris. Though Morris’ NBA success as a Lakers second-round pick has been moderate at best, he was a star at Michigan.
Morris left early for the NBA before Burke arrived in Ann Arbor, but Burke’s preparation for playing with Morris could be helpful now. That’s because, whenever he hears his name called in Thursday’s NBA Draft, Burke will almost certainly join a team with a point guard who’s seen as more NBA-ready and/or possessing of more upside.
When discussing the Kings, Burke even mentioned Isaiah Thomas – “who was the 60th pick and showed that a lot of teams shouldn’t have passed up on him” – before DeMarcus Cousins, or any other Sacramento player for that matter.
But it’s not just the Kings who would present point-guard competition for Burke.
Burke considers his range in tomorrow NBA’s NBA Draft No. 2 to No. 8, and all the teams in that range already have point guards:
- No. 2 Magic: Jameer Nelson
- No. 3 Wizards: John Wall
- No. 4 Bobcats: Kemba Walker
- No. 5 Suns: Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall
- No. 6 Pelicans: Greivis Vasquez, Austin Rivers
- No. 7 Kings: Isaiah Thomas
- No. 8 Pistons: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Jose Calderon (free agent)
Whichever of those teams draft Burke, those point guards better take notice. When preparing to playing with Morris, Burke developed a plan of attack for dealing with a potentially awkward situation.
“Well, it’s the offseason right now,” Burke said. “I wouldn’t say it’s great to compete with a teammate, but I think that’s the right thing to do right now. It will make not only me better, but him as well. Once the seasons starts, there’s no more competing between us.”
Burke said his ambitions were limited when he thought he’d share a roster with Morris – “compete for some minutes,” as Morris put it – but without the returning starter in the way, Burke soared.
Many Michigan fans questioned why Morris would turn pro just to become a second-round pick. By midway through Burke’s freshman season, they questioned whether Morris would have kept his starting job had he stayed.
Burke undoubtedly learned a lot from his experiences at Michigan that will prepare him for the NBA. But it’s the preparation for the experience he never had that could prove especially important.
“I’m in the same predicament right now,” Burke said. “Like I said, I love challenges. I think it makes me stronger, not only as a player, but as a person, mentally. I’m excited.”