What To Expect: Burke And Hardaway In The NBA

Submitted by Ace on July 1st, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Unrelated note: Brian is off until Wednesday, so you're stuck with me until then. Given the back-to-back-to-back commitment posts I'm pushing the recruiting roundup back to tomorrow. I'd also like to put together a mailbag tomorrow; anyone with questions about recruiting, football, or basketball can ask away on Twitter (hashtag #mgomailbag if you will) or via email.


Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. saw their NBA dreams turn to reality in last Thursday's NBA Draft, and I've been remiss in my duties to not do some sort of writeup about it. This is probably because I was temporarily devastated by Detroit's decision to pass on Burke at #8 and am just now beginning to get over it; I should probably stop tying any part of my emotions to the fate of the Pistons for sanity's sake.

Anyway, Burke dropped to the #9 spot, where he was selected by Minnesota and quickly traded to the Utah Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks (Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, as it turned out). While Burke couldn't hide his disappointment in falling further than expected — and being passed on by Joe Dumars, whom he has a close relationship with — he landed in an ideal situation.

Last season Utah's point guards finished dead last in the NBA when measured by net PER*, according to 82games.com, producing poorly on both ends of the floor. While the Jazz aren't guaranteeing a starting role for Burke, they might as well — at the moment, he's the only point guard on the roster, and none of last year's lead guards (Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson, and Mo Williams, all currently free agents) are NBA-starter quality. As a result, ESPN's Jeff Goodman lists Burke among five players he expects to have an early impact ($):

Utah dealt its No. 14 and 21 selections to move up to No. 9 and grab Burke. It's a logical move, and the ideal marriage for both sides: The Jazz get a heady, high-character floor leader whose game translates to the next level. Sure, he's not a super athlete -- but Utah coach Tyrone Corbin likely will rely on him to come right in and start. Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley are all free agents. This will be Burke's show from the outset.

Burke should become the 22nd player in the last 15 years (16, when this year is included) to be under 6'3" and play 2,000 minutes as a rookie; that stat comes from Utah's SBNation site, and the full list of players is pretty strong — all but a few are at least decent rotation guys. As one would expect from a group that gets plenty of playing time, they tend to put up pretty decent raw numbers:

What are your expectations for Burke's rookie year? The average for that group of 21 point guards is playing in 80 games (starting 62 of them, for 77%), and getting averages of 13.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, and 1.2 spg in 31.3 mpg.

What about the talent around Burke, then? The Jazz finished one spot out of the playoffs last year but are in a rebuilding mode of sorts; power forwards Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the team's two leading scorers and rebounders last year, are also free agents. Utah does boast plenty of young talent up front, though. Center Enes Kanter (2011) and power forward Derrick Favors (2010) were #3 overall picks in consecutive drafts, and their emergence last year as quality backups has allowed Utah to let go of Jefferson, who's looking for a big payday.

Kanter and Favors are both capable of running the high screen, finishing around the basket, and hitting the offensive glass. With Gordon Hayward available as a sharp-shooting perimeter option and former #2 overall pick Marvin Williams providing some scoring punch at the three, Burke may not have elite talent surrounding him but there's enough to allow him to be productive. With the Jazz looking to build around him and their two bigs, Burke is in a pretty ideal situation for a rookie point guard, and he should compete for Rookie of the Year honors.

Hardaway's situation is a little hazier. Drafted with the 24th pick by New York, Hardaway could see the floor as a role player, but his minutes will largely be determined by whether the Knicks retain free agent swingman J.R. Smith. Even if Smith is gone, Hardaway has competition, and in the same article from above Jeff Goodman listed him as one of the rookies in a tough situation:

The Knicks took the son of the former NBA star late in the first round (24), and, although it seems there is room for him with the departure of J.R. Smith, he'll have to beat out Iman Shumpert for playing time. Hardaway is a streaky, streaky shooter who doesn't do much else.

Posting and Toasting, SBNation's Knicks outlet, has a more optimistic view of how Hardaway could fit into the team, especially if Smith isn't retained:

Hardaway is a solid fit for the roster. His presence provides the Knicks some insurance against the possible departure of talented guard J.R. Smith. His ability to stretch the floor and hit perimeter jumpers fits right in with the offensive philosophy of last season, as does his low turnover rate. THJ possesses all the characteristics associated with the best shooters using screens: He gets good elevation, has great hands, keeps his feet under him, and has good shooting form. While he will likely see much of his offense in pure spot-up situations, THJ gives the Knicks a player who can score off of down screens and attack the paint off of close-outs. He isn't a great ball-handler, but there is some potential for him to work in the pick-and-roll a little given his unselfish nature and feel. Should the Knicks retain Smith, they would find themselves with a somewhat crowded backcourt, but having too much talent isn't the worst problem to experience. It would be more ideal if THJ could guard both wing positions, but that seems unlikely. He does not provide any answers to NYK's current situation in the frontcourt, but he's a skilled guard who can get the ball moving in transition and hit the three.

Hardaway's effectiveness in transition and his spot-up shooting ability are his tickets to success in the NBA, especially on a Knicks team that has Carmelo Anthony dominating the ball. I'm not sure how much time he'll see this year regardless of Smith's situation unless his defense improves markedly — not something that you usually see right away while making the leap to the NBA — or he becomes a more consistent shooter (a possibility, as he'll be asked to do a lot less shooting off the dribble, which wasn't his strongsuit).

Burke appears to have landed in the better situation, and as the more NBA-ready player we expected to see a lot more of him than Hardaway next season anyway. Both could see significant time if the Knicks don't bring back Smith — with New York trading a first-round pick for Andrea Bargnani yesterday, though, it's clear they're gearing up for a title run (however ill-fated) this year, and a developing Hardaway may not fit into those plans. At the very least, however, Michigan fans should be able to see plenty of Burke come this winter.

*Player Efficiency Rating, a stat created by former ESPN basketball writer and current Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger. Explanation can be found here.



July 1st, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

Knight and Stuckey are combo guards. KCP and English are the only SGs on the roster. I just think they really needed a player like KCP to stretch the floor. The outside shooting and wing scoring was pretty bad last year.


July 1st, 2013 at 3:45 PM ^

Not because they've shown any ability to play the point. Knight is a combo third guard off the bench filling in at either spot. Stuckey is just a pain in the ass. But both are better at the 2.  

They do need a player like KCP. They need a small forward more. And they need a point guard more than that. With someone like Trey they get outside shooting and passing. Now they've just gotten outside shooting. Shooting isn't going to do anyone any good if they don't have someone to get them the ball. (Though KCP will get to take all the outside shots after they overpay Smith or Iguodala).

Colin M

July 1st, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

Why do they need a PG more than a SF more than a SG? They need all three of those things. Yes, they have lots of basketball players who primarily play SG, but those players are all pretty terrible. Given that, it makes sense to simply pick the BPA amongst SG, SF and PG.

You've said several times that shooting doesn't matter unless there is "someone to get them the ball." It kind of seems like you think there will never ever be any other point guards for the Pistons to acquire.


July 2nd, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

The problem with it, and why the "if he wasn't a Michigan player no one would care" thing doesn't fly is that by the vast, vast majority of the rankings and assessments, Burke was the higher rated player. He's the one who slid down like all the draft picks the last couple of years for the Pistons. But rather than taking the BPA like he's done, this time Dumars picked someone that only he thought was the BPA (and there's some doubt to that with the amount he emphasized "needs" after the draft rather than best guy out there). Everyone else had Burke rated higher with no one sure where KCP would go if he fell past Minnesota.(And the T-Wolves still turned it into more value).

As for PG and fit, I'm with Colin on this one. That argument makes no sense to me. I don't see why KCP is ok to get when you HAVE to go out and acquire another PG, but Burke doesn't fit because it would mean you'd have to go out and acquire a different SG than Knight. Frankly, Knight still looks like a combo guard off the bench to fill in either spot, so you could still keep him and get that SG. 

I'd rather develop a PG along with our frontcourt players who is really good, rather than just stick in some middle of the road free agent. While I think they're both most likely to be decent starters, I think Burke's ceiling is higher to be a really good PG potentially than KCP's "just a shooter" role. Sure if you can go out and get a Rondo that's good, but guys who just stretch the defense aren't that hard to find either.

Colin M

July 2nd, 2013 at 6:38 PM ^

I agree with everything you wrote except I think KCP brings value with defense and rebounding that you're not really considering. Burke is clearly the superior offensive prospect since he's as good a shooter (same eFG, lower TS) and adds additional value with his passing. KCP has much better defensive stats which is one of the reasons that I'm mildly disappointed rather than apoplectic.


July 1st, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

But Burke isn't the right PG for these Pistons ime. He's too small on the defensive end, and with Stuckey and Knight both being smaller as well, Burke would leave them dangerously small in the back court. I figured if they had wanted to go for a point guard they would have selected Williams.

That said, Burke will be fine in Utah. Hardaway should see some time on the Knicks, but I expect him to ride the bench really on as the team tries to make a run.

Colin M

July 1st, 2013 at 4:46 PM ^

Brandon Knight and Stuckey are two below average players. Stuckey is in the final year of his contract and Knight has 1 year left after this. Why would you let two players who (hopefully) won't be part of the  long term future of the franchise dictate your lottery pick. Knight and Stuckey are a sunk cost who should be ignored when making personell decisions. How they fit with Burke or any  other player is a lot less relevant than the fact that they are not very good and should be replaced.


July 1st, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

While I agree Stuckey is not long for this team, Knight still has potential to be a solid guard and a good player on a winner. And beyond that, Burke is not the type of player you blow up your backcourt for.

Everyone here loves Burke (as do I), but he's not an elite athlete our defender. He has solid range but isn't a dead eye, and there are still questions regarding his ceiling. Personally, I don't see him being a start in the league, and while I'm not sold on KCP either he is intriguing for the Pistons.
Burke will be happy in Utah and should play well, but if Burke had not gone to UM nobody here would have freaked out with Dumars skipping him.


July 1st, 2013 at 6:48 PM ^

there are a lot of quality PGs than SGs. SG, overall, sucks in the league.  As of now, PG >>>>>> SG in the NBA.

If you said this about 5-8 years ago, you'd be correct, but now it's not true.

Look at the top 5 PG and SG in the NBA IMO:


1. Tony Parker

2. Chris Paul

3. Russell Westbrook

4. Rajon Rondo

5. Stephen Curry



1. James Harden

2. Kobe Bryant

3. Dwayne Wade

4. Joe Johnson

5. Jamal Crawford

SG pretty much has the top 3 set in stone but the next 10 spots are all interchangeable depending on how you view players.  Joe Johnson isn't an elite SG. Ditto with Crawford who is more of a 6th man and total defensive liability.  There's Monta Ellis who is a ball hog and streaky.  JR Smith is inconsistent and has attitude problems. Klay Thompson is a great shooter but isn't regarded as an elite SG.  Iggy is a solid but not great player.  Harden is a sure thing going forward, but Kobe and Wade are getting older and is on a decline, athleticially.  I consider Harden an elite SG while Kobe and Wade are close to it but is a quality SG. The rest aren't great but solid.

PG has a lot of elite players.  There's Rondo, CP3, Parker, Westbrook, Curry, D-Williams, Kyrie Irving.  There's the next tier like Lillard, Lawson, Conley, Wall, Teague. That is leaving out Derrick Rose who is out for the season with ACL injury.  Ton of quality PG compared to SG.


July 1st, 2013 at 8:29 PM ^

with better understanding and coaching, it's a lot easier to find a PG than SG for some reason. An average PG compared to other PG in today's NBA is way better than an average SG compared to other SG in today's NBA.  That's how big of a disparity of the overall talent level of PG and SG in the league.


July 1st, 2013 at 7:38 PM ^

There are far fewer good shooting guards in the league compared to PG's. I mean, Wade is probably still in the top 5 and he can barely move.
Calderon is a serviceable PG for the year, and I still think Stuckey can provide some value if they keep him. The Pistons have holes everywhere but at PF and (maybe) C if Drummond continues to mature. Burke was as much an upgrade at PG as Pope it's at SG.


July 1st, 2013 at 7:39 PM ^

There are far fewer good shooting guards in the league compared to PG's. I mean, Wade is probably still in the top 5 and he can barely move.
Calderon is a serviceable PG for the year, and I still think Stuckey can provide some value if they keep him. The Pistons have holes everywhere but at PF and (maybe) C if Drummond continues to mature. Burke was as much an upgrade at PG as Pope it's at SG.

Business Time

July 1st, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

Combo guard just means you can't pass well enough to play PG, and can't shoot well enough to play SG.  The players who can truly do both inevitably become stars (Harden, Curry, Ginobili in his prime).

On a somewhat related note, it seems that shooting has increasingly become a less important skill for PGs these days. Guys like Rondo, Parker, Rose, Westbrook, and Conley have average-at-best shooting ability.


July 1st, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

When you're picked low in the first round you're going to make the team, but you're probably not ready to be a starter anyway.  So if  he can work his way into minutes off the bench he won't have the pressure of being a starter he has no business being yet.  Which is espeically bad in New York. 

Trey....well, all the Pistons sell outs this year will probably have more fans rooting for the other team than the home team. (Utah, Miami, Lakers....)


July 1st, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

The Jazz have a TON of cap space, so it'll be really interesting to see who they resign or who they go after. I would think they might try to hold on to one of Millsap or Jefferson. If all their youth pan out though, Trey is in an awesome situation.

His Dudeness

July 1st, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Jazz have a great coach for a PG. I am happy for Trey.

Speaking of couldn't be better for Tim either. NYC is a heck of a nice place to play ball.

Although it would have been nice to see him (Burke) play you can't wish the Pistons on anybody. Brutal.



July 1st, 2013 at 4:10 PM ^

As guy who lives in Utah, this was a fantastic pickup for the Jazz. They've been lacking a true PG for so long. John Stockton took Karl Malone to the Hall of Fame under Jerry Sloan, Ty Corbin coached under Sloan for a brief stint, but he's a pick and roll coach who hasn't had a pick and roll guard for the last 2 years. Burke is stepping into a fantastic situation with some young guns who love to run. Kanter is a bull in a china shop, but can lay some wood and finish at the rim, and isn't afraid to take it up no matter what. Favors can spot up at 15, or play back to the rim. Hayward and Alec Burks finish the rest of the starting line after Jefferson, Millsap, and Mo Williams walk.

I'm excited for this Jazz season. On the brink of the playoffs with the team they had last year, adding Burke should put them in the hunt. They won't make any championship run any time soon, and even though they have the cap space they won't spend it, so don't expect them to challenge the Heat or Thunder unless Burke to Favors becomes the next Stockton to Malone. For anyone that doesn't remember-


Stock is the all-time leader in steals and assists (both by a mile), I see Burke making some of those passes but also finishing for himself a lot more often. Again, I'm excited about this Jazz season.


July 2nd, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

No. Everyone in Utah is stoked to finally get back a player at his caliber. You may or may not remember- Utah originally drafted Deron Williams ahead of Chris Paul, which turned out just fine because of the offense that the Jazz were running. He was a bigger version of Burke, but thrived here. The people loved him. We knew we were losing him, so they got all they could for him in a trade, so in a roundabout way Deron turned into Marvin Williams, Devin Harris (traded last year), and now Burke and a few more picks. They had the picks to trade, they needed an everything guard, and it's worth it. All my buddies that were at ESA (Energy Solutions Arena, home of the Jazz) for the draft party were going nuts when they found out Burke was coming to Utah. It's a pretty positive atmosphere, I haven't really heard any negativity at all regarding trading the 2 picks.


July 1st, 2013 at 4:42 PM ^

I think the pistons made the right move and I think Burke will benefit from how it all worked out...   people around here are acting like spoiled brats whining about the pistons passing on Trey.  What about the other seven teams who passed on him?  or the ninth team that took him and traded him away.  Burke will have some good big men to work with in Utah and could have a solid career out there. 

IMO  Burke is better off in Utah than detroit and Detroit is better off with KCP.  I don't know why everyone is so bitter around here...

As for Timmy, I doubt he will be in the league in a few years but I wish him well... 




Colin M

July 1st, 2013 at 4:50 PM ^

I'm not sure I agree that the Pistons "are better off with KCP" but I think they're fine. They had so many needs the most important thing is that they picked a quality player at a position of need. Most non-UM Pistons fans seem excited about the draft. And I totally agree that the reaction here is way out of proportion to the level of injustice.


July 1st, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

Because the vast majority of (UofM) pistons fans disagree that we're better off with pope than we would have been with Burke. I'm with the majority...no reason for a team that is several pieces away from contention to pass on a solid PG just because he doesn't fit with two soon-to-be former players


July 1st, 2013 at 6:06 PM ^

loved the draft. Ignoring the fact they passed on the "hometown" product in Burke and picked up a quality SG who was super productive despite the fact that KCP had no one who can take pressure off of him.  KCP was efficient and was the main focal point of the offense. He has in the gym shooting range, can rebound and has surprising athelticism to be a successful SG in the NBA. His athleticism tested out well at the combine and if he can learn to break down defenders by putting the ball down on the floor, he can be a top 5 SG in the NBA. Pistons desperately need help at perimeter shooting at the wing and KCP provides it. There is a reason why he is a SEC POY over several players from Florida, Kentucky, etc.

There's Tony Mitchell who could end up as the best player in the draft if he can get his head in the game. He has great size at SF/PF position and has nice shooting stroke.  His FG% sufferred because he settled for too much jumpers, but if you can look at his freshman season, that's a glimpse of his potential. He is very similar to Paul George in term of size, athelticism and college production on a bad mid-major team. He needs to attack the basket and play above the rim. He's capable of 20-10 at every game. If Pistons staff(though it'ss a different staff) can keep Mitchell motiviated like they have done with Drummond, they could struck gold with Mitchell.

Peyton Siva is a nice late round pick who provide speed and defense as a backup PG. He will make PG's life uncomfortable with his ability to lock down PG. He can get reckless at times and struggles to shoot the ball which is why he's a backup defensive PG in the next level.


July 2nd, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

You realize Burke shot better than KCP, right?

FG% .463 to .433

3PT% .384 to .373

FT% .801 to .799

That's pretty significant, no? So if that's the reason to take him, Burke is the better pick.

And "if he can learn to break down defenders on the floor he'll be a top 5 SG" why not just say "if Drummond learns to shoot threes he'll be better than Lebron?"  Lots of guys if they did the things that haven't done "could be better." His QUICKNESS rated well at the combines, but his athleticism wasn't off the charts. 

And if Mitchell was going to be the best player in the draft, he wouldn't have gone in the 2nd round. You're not going to see any 2nd round picks be the best players in any drafts the way they scout them nowadays. A fine pick, but you're killing your credibility with the hyperbole.


July 2nd, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

he is pretty much the offense and was the focal point of the defense just like Burke. The difference is Burke has NBA talent at his disposal like THJ, McGary, GRIII, etc. where as KCP had no one around him. When you're the only option and defense will double/triple team you at every possession.  KCP still managed to have higher TS% than Burke and can hit from close to half court as a jump shot which means it's "in the gym range". KCP still managed to be efficient despite the supporting cast and the fact he has to score 25 pts a game to have a chance of winning.

Reason I said Mitchell could be the best player in the draft when all is said and done is he was a top 5-10 talent who fell due to production and effort concerns. Andre Drummond had the same questions as Mitchell but the difference is Drummond is only 19 yr old and a C. Team have a huge need at C where SF/PF are a dime a dozen.  If Mitchell can get his head on straight, he could very well be the best player in the draft since it's a very weak draft up top.

El Jeffe

July 1st, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

I guess I'm more bullish on THJ than some. For one thing, he won't be expected to save the franchise, so he'll have a little time to develop. For another, I'm not convinced his handle can't get much, much better in the coming few years. I don't think he'll ever be James Harden or Manu Ginobili, but he can improve dramatically if he doesn't have to do anything but work on his game.

Finally, I said this in a different thread, but SG is super weak in the NBA right now. As long as he plays well enough to get a second contract for a team looking to strengthen it SG position (and unless you're the Rockets, Heat, Warriors, Bucks, Clippers, or Nets, you need to strengthen your SG position), he should play 5-10 years at least with a nice little bank account to show for it before he returns to coach Michigan to its sixth and seventh NCAA championships did you see what I did there.


July 1st, 2013 at 6:53 PM ^

I just think THJr will have a hard time in the NBA. He will have to improve his handles. He did a little better last year, but it was painful to watch him dribble into/across the paint. He got stripped quite a bit. He is also very streaky as a shooter, which could be an issue if you're trying to carve a role as an off-the-bench shooter; there just isn't a lot of time to work yourself into a rhythm. I hope he does well, but I don't like his chances much better than Manny Harris'. Then again, who would've thought Jamal Crawford would do so well?


July 2nd, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

Consider his ONLY good shooting game in the tourney was SDSU.  He did lots of other stuff, which is always nice to see in a shooting guard, but it was kind of like seeing a really good utility infielder play first base.  The one thing he DIDN'T do efficiently was score -- he was the leading scorer against Syracuse, for example, but only because he took more than twice as many shots as the starting frontcourt.  Granted this was against some of the toughest college defenses in the nation, defenses in particular well-suited (Louisville) or outright designed (VCU, Syracuse) to stop backcourt shooters, but does anyone think the job gets any easier in the NBA?

His game doesn't really scale well in that sense.  It's nice that he can catch & dish but a SG's effectiveness begins and ends with his threat to score.  You don't really "grow" as a shooter if you struggled against quality college defenses and are now facing the likes of Tony Allen and Manu Ginobili.