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PBT Draft preview: Is Trey Burke the next Lillard? He’ll be an impact rookie.

May 13, 2013, 3:25 PM EDT

Trey Burke AP

For the next five weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. We start with one of the more household names in this draft.

If you are looking for the next Damian Lillard — not in terms of style of play, but in terms of a rookie who could have a big impact right out of the gate — Trey Burke may be your guy. He’s not going to be an NBA superstar, but he could be a very good point guard for your team for years.

The 6’0” point guard out of Michigan became as much of a household name as there is in this draft with his play during the NCAA tournament, leading Michigan all the way to the championship game. But he wasn’t a tournament flash — he was the best player in college ball last season. He was everybody’s college player of the year, averaging 18.1 points and 6.6 assists per game, shooting a high percentage (38 percent from three) and not turning the ball over much.

He’s got an all-around skill set that will have him going in the Top 5 according to DraftExpress (where exactly could depend on the lottery and who drafts in what slot). Usually it’s big men who move up the draft board as we get closer, but Burke seems to be doing the same now.


The NBA is a pick-and-roll league and Burke is a good pick-and-roll point guard, the best in college last season. According to DraftExpress 35.5 percent of his offense came off that play and he scored a good 0.98 points per possession that way — with defenses keyed on him. It’s because he uses good quickness and hesitation moves to get in the paint or he can shoot with range if you go under the pick.

Remember the NCAA finals game — Russ Smith from Louisville is a good defender and Burke did as he pleased against him.

Burke can score a variety of ways, but he can also pass the rock well, he has good court vision and sense. He can get in the paint off the pick and make plays. He’s also good in transition, both getting to the rim and kicking out to shooter.

Finally, if you’re looking for an on the court leader…. Did you see Burke in the NCAA Tournament?


The questions about him are simple — is he big enough at six foot to both keep scoring in the lane against the NBA trees, and will that height hurt him defensively.

Against bigger players in college Burke tended to go to a floater rather than attack at the rim. As DraftExpress noted, he shot just 52 percent in the restricted area when running a half court offense. He’s going to have to do better at the next level.

And he’s going to have to learn to defend (something Lillard still needs to do as well).


With each college player we profile at PBT, we’ll talk to Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk at NBC to get his thoughts — he sees these guys more than we do.

I think that even if Marcus Smart had entered the draft this year that I would have taken Burke as the first point guard, and it’s because there really isn’t all that much that he can’t do on the offensive end of the floor. He’s terrific in the pick-and-roll because he’s not only a threat to score, but he’s a perfectly competent and willing creator as well. The biggest improvement that Burke made this season was in his decision-making, as his efficiency numbers were through the roof. He didn’t turn the ball over much and he rarely took bad shots despite the fact that he was the engine on the nation’s most potent offensive attack this season.

Burke also proved to have a penchant for making big shots in big moments. Who can forgot the 30-footer that he hit to force overtime against Kansas in the Sweet 16? Those of us that watched him all season long weren’t surprised that he a) took that shot or b) made that shot.

He has his weaknesses. He’s on the shorter side (6’0”, although he does have a 6’5” wingspan) and he’s not on the same level as a Derrick Rose or John Wall when it comes to athleticism. There are questions about just how good he is going to be on the defensive end of the floor. He’s not an elite point guard prospect in the sense that he’s the kind of guy that can turn around a franchise. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a good player in the league for a number of years.


Top five for sure, and if the right team lands at No. 1, who knows? Wherever he lands he’ll make an impact and the fans will love him.

  1. asimonetti88 - May 13, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Really really like Burke. I think he’ll be a very good starter for a team for a while. Wish the Lakers could find a way to get him, although that will never happen.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 14, 2013 at 2:58 AM

      He’s a confident dudes, which you have to be as a PG, but I don’t think he is special. Nor is Hardaway and most of the guys who are leaving early. I only see about 3-4 potentially borderline all-stars in this draft.

      • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2013 at 12:48 AM

        Agreed. But having a bonafide starter is nothing to sneeze at, especially at point guard. Mike Conley is not a star, and may not even be a borderline All-Star, but ask the Grizzlies if they’re happy with him and they’d say yes definitely.

  2. jhuck92 - May 13, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    We’re already talking about “the next Lillard”? The kid has only been in the league, and already he’s made that kind of impact. Looking in the ling term, he (Lillard) might be the steal of his draft.

  3. acdc363 - May 13, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    The Magic should totally draft this dude. Or is Jameer just starting a fresh contract? Either way you throw this dude out there with Harkless, Harris and Vucevic and you can get a little something going.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Jameer Nelson has 2 years, $16.6 million left on his new deal, but the second year is a team option.

      The Magic could certainly draft a replacement PG, have him compete with Nelson for playing time in 2013, then decline the team option in Nelson’s contract in 2014 if the rookie pans out.

      And that would be a nice core of young guys.

  4. cantonbound13 - May 13, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Stern will deliver him to MJ

  5. thekingdave - May 13, 2013 at 6:13 PM


    Makes Billy King look all the more incompetent. And he was extended why?

    • jhuck92 - May 13, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Because Mikhail Prokhorov just throws money at the problem to make it go away? I’m not a Nyets fan, I couldn’t tell you.

      • cmehustle - May 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

        I am a Nets fan. I couldnt tell you why. Who would you rather have a decent but getting old (fast) Gerald Wallace? Or how about Harrison Barnes, who was on the board at 6 when we were supposed to be drafting? And Im not even talking 2 or 3 years down the line, Im talking today who would you rather have? I think the only one picking Wallace is Billy King, which is why to this day I have no idea how he got an extension. Maybe he finds fine ass russian chicks for Prokorov to sleep with when he’s in New York?

  6. zblott - May 13, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Burke’s college team actually got better with him (UM hadn’t been to the Sweet 16 in 19 years, let alone the Championship Game), unlike Lillard’s (Weber State was in the tourney in ’08 but never with Lillard), plus he had a good Assist-Turnover rate. I’m willing to bet a team that uses Burke will show more improvement than the backsliding Blazers did this past year with Lillard.

  7. kingbuccaneer - May 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    I beg you Magic to take this guy!! No more Jameer freaking Nelson

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 14, 2013 at 2:56 AM

      Speaking of my previous comment, Burke is a duplicate of Nelson, if there is a comparison anyplace. Seems like a duplicitous effort if you drafted him. You were better off hoping that kid from Ok State would have left.

  8. Mr. Wright 212 - May 14, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    Not even close. More like Terrell Brandon after the 4th injury, in terms of productivity.

  9. saint1997 - May 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    I like him he’s got a nice feel for the game. I don’t think his size is an issue and frankly he will be a successful point. Not sure if he’s the right guy for the Magic though, better off taking McLemore and waiting a year to take Andrew Harrison or Smart

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