Utah’s 19-10 finish to last season — the finish that has a lot of prognosticators (this one included) predicting they will make the playoffs this season — happened with Dante Exum as the starting point guard (obviously, other factors were in play, too).
So when Exum went down this summer with an ACL injury that will keep him out an entire season, there were other teams around the league ready to try to trade the Jazz a veteran point guard — at a steep price, of course. The Jazz looked at their options, and they are going to go with the guys on the roster: Trey Burke, Raul Neto, and Bryce Cotton. From the Salt Lake City Tribune.
But the Tribune has learned the Jazz fully plan to go into training camp and the preseason with Burke, Neto and Cotton as their floor leaders. If things don’t work out, the front office could take another course of action once the regular season begins in November. Or if someone makes a trade offer the Jazz would be fools to turn down, but that’s a remote possibility. For now, Utah’s content to go with its trio of playmakers and let them…..play.
Neto should make a respectable backup point guard — he’s a good defender and passer.
But the real challenge falls to Burke.
Last season, Burke’s performance was up-and-down, which led to coach Quin Snyder deciding to start a rookie in front of him. Now entering his third season, the former Michigan standout needs to prove he should be trusted with the ball in his hands, that he can be a starter, that he can be part of Utah’s promising future.
Burke has to defend better, last season he was often beaten out on the perimeter. However, when Burke and Rudy Gobert were paired last season the Jazz allowed just 99.7 points per 100 possessions, numbers that show he can fit in the system.
The bigger issue is Burke needs to take fewer bad shots. Frankly, he needs to shoot less period, but he has to be smarter about when to put it up. Last season, he took 38.8 percent of his shot attempts from three, and hit just 31.8 percent of them. If Burke is pounding the ball and stalling out the offense, then taking bad shots, he’s not giving the more talented Gordon Hayward or others the chance to have the ball in their hands. Burke needs to cede some of the offensive control to Hayward to make plays, or guys like Alec Burks to get their shots. Burke cannot be the center of the Jazz offense.
If he is, those trade talks about a veteran point guard will ramp up quickly.