Let’s preface this scouting report with some harsh realities for Trey Burke:
A point guard renaissance has taken over the NBA. The point guards whom we typically think of as “league average,” and who probably would have been considered league average several years ago, are actually something quite different these days.
Take a player like Jrue Holiday as a prime example of how deep the position has become.
I wrote a raving column about Holiday’s development in late March and prematurely anointed him as an elite point guard.
Now, just three months later, I’m not even sure Holiday fits in my top-10 any more. Sure, he was an All-Star and averaged nearly 18 points and 8 assists. Regardless, it’s hard to say for certain whether Holiday is actually better than Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, or John Wall.
Players one notch below those aforementioned fringe All-Stars (think Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, Raymond Felton, and George Hill) can’t all be average or above-average starting point guards in the league. It’s just not mathematically possible. There are only fourteen spots for the “above average” designation. By my estimation, all fourteen of those spots are filled by players who will be All-Star candidates at the start of next season.
Burke is expected to be the first point guard taken in the 2013 draft. Rest assured: whichever team picks Burke will be doing so under the assumption that he can immediately take the reigns of the franchise and become an above average starter in the league.
Does this mean Trey Burke is doomed from the start?
A pessimist will happily point to three recent instances and say yes:
1. Kendall Marshall was in Burke’s shoes last season as a top point guard in the draft. Just one year later, the Suns are already considering taking a point guard in the lottery to replace Marshall. Marshall’s inability to shoot simply prevents Phoenix from ever playing him serious minutes behind Goran Dragic.
2. The Pistons used the eighth pick in 2011 on Brandon Knight. Now, Detroit is realizing that he will probably never develop into the above-average point guard they were hoping for. In 2013-2014, they will try to reinvent him as a shooting guard.
3. Kemba Walker was a superstar in college and has shown flashes of stardom in the NBA. And while it may be too early to say for sure, few executives consider him to be a legitimate cornerstone point guard of the future. He might be better suited for a career as a super scorer off the bench.
Clearly, the cards are stacked against Burke as he will face lofty expectations from day one. Regardless, I believe he has the best chance of any point guard in this class to reach the above-average (aka potential All-Star) level.
To properly assess Burke’s credentials and candidacy, I made two extensive Excel spreadsheets and analyzed how Burke compares out of college to some of the league’s best point guards from the past 10 drafts.