Early this season, the most common line next to Alec Burks’ name in the box score was DNP (Did Not Play) С coach’s decision.
Then, following the rash of injuries to the guard position, Burks finally got a shot to impress the coaches.
When the other point guards return, return, they will have a fight with Burks to get their minutes back.
Burks has shown vast improvement handling the point guard position, scoring a career-high 24 points in the Jazz 120-109 loss at Sacramento Saturday. He also cut his turnovers down, only committing one in 27 minutes. His production eased the loss of Mo Williams and Gordon Hayward.
Head coach Ty Corbin has talked all season about finding time for the young Burks, pleading with his player and with Jazz fans to stay patient, that the time will come when he is a bigger part of the rotation. The extended minutes may be due to injuries, but Burks certainly took advantage of his opportunity.
“It’s not his position, so I think we’ll let him look a little bit,” said Corbin after last Monday’s 98-91 win over the Kings. “We never know what will happen. I think right now to let him see what’s going on, to understand defensively how he has to play different guys.”
Burks defense is good, but will get a special test this week. This story was submitted prior to his battles with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. Getting more time will be based on his ability to defend these quick, dynamic guards.
Offensively, Burks needs to table his shooting guard mentality and become a facilitator. His playing time will not be based on how many points he scores or how many shots he puts up. Rather, his time will reflect his commitment on defense and his ability to get the Jazz offense started.
Last Saturday, he only recorded one assist, a number he must improve on. Corbin wants leadership from the point guard position, and current starter Jamaal Tinsley has the leadership Corbin wants. However, the soon-to-be 35-year-old is not quick enough to defend opposing guards on a nightly basis. If Burks can show he can defend and lead the offense, he will boost the Jazz shot at keeping their playoff spot.
“It’s a tough position for anybody,” Corbin said, commenting on Burks opportunity. “Being a point guard you’ve got to get the ball up the floor, you’ve go to make the calls, you’ve got to get everybody in their place and Alec by his nature is a scoring two-man. But he has great ball handling skills, and we need him right now.”