Jazz to start rookie Raul Neto over Trey Burke in opener


While Rudy Gobert and the defense deservedly get most of the credit for Utah’s late surge last season (19-11 after the All-Star Break, allowing 89 points per game), another key change was Dante Exum taking over starting at point for Trey Burke. It put a pass-first point guard at the helm of the offense, which meant more shots for efficient shooters such as Gordon Hayward. The ball movement improved.

With Exum out for the season with an ACL injury, Burke spent the preseason trying to prove he should be back in the starter’s role. However, for the Jazz’s opener tonight against the Pistons, coach Quin Snyder is going with Brazilian rookie Raul Neto at the point, reports Jody Genessy of the Deseret News.

Burke averaged 15.3 points a game on 50 percent shooting in the preseason, but he was his usual self hunting for his own shot and averaging 2.5 assists per game. Neto is a pick-and-roll point guard who looks to pass first (and his shot will need some work against NBA defenses). Expect a lot of drive-and-kick, based on what we saw in the preseason — with Haywood and Rodney Hood starting that could work well. There are questions about how well Neto can defend at the NBA level.

Neto is not a better player than Burke, but he is a better fit with the starting lineup.

Burke can come in gunning with the second unit and have the green light.