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Trey Burke Gives Jazz Fans a Taste of the Future

by Bill Lea

By Matt Payne - Utah Jazz

He entered the NBA as the reigning college player of the year, broke his finger during the preseason, and then worked his way back to finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Along the way, Trey Burke put together one of the best rookie seasons in Jazz franchise history and, perhaps more importantly, became one of Utah’s most beloved players in recent memory.

How, exactly, did this happen? Let’s go over a few of the reasons.

Great Expectations

The Jazz traded two picks (No. 14 and No. 21) to the Minnesota Timberwolves to move up and select Burke at No. 9 in the 2013 NBA draft.

In his final year at Michigan, Burke won the 2013 John R. Wooden Award and was named the Naismith College Player of the Year. He also guided the Wolverines to the 2013 NCAA championship game.

It was only the second time in franchise history that the Jazz drafted the NCAA Player of the Year (the other was Darrell Griffith in 1980).

Late-game Heroics

Despite being a rookie (and missing the team’s first 12 games due to a broken finger), Burke established himself early on as Utah’s go-to scorer with the game on the line. He hit a game-winning 3-pointer with just 1.6 seconds left against Orlando, and also had clutch late-game shots against Miami, Chicago, Charlotte and Minnesota. During crunch time (the final five minutes of regulation, plus overtime) this season, Burke shot 51 percent from the field (including 55 percent on 3-pointers—the second-best rate of anyone in the NBA) and 94 percent (16-for-17) from the free-throw line.

Significant Statistics

Burke set a franchise record for most assists per game (5.7) by a rookie. To put this in historical perspective, John Stockton averaged 5.1 assists per game as a rookie, while Deron Williams dished out 4.5 assists per game during his first season. Burke also scored at least 30 points in a team-high three games (tied with Gordon Hayward), and he finished No. 4 in the NBA in free-throw percentage (90.3 percent) among players who attempted at least 100 free throws during the season.

Frequent Honoree

Burke received the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award three times during the 2013-14 season—in December, January and April. In doing so, he became the first player in franchise history to win multiple Rookie of the Month awards.

All-Star Weekend

Burke represented the Utah Jazz at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans in February. The rookie point guard competed in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Team Webber and won the 2014 Taco Bell Skills Challenge alongside Portland’s Damian Lillard.

Elite Company

On April 6 against Golden State, Burke joined an exclusive club when he became just the fifth rookie since the 1990-91 season to score at least 24 points and dish out 15 assists in one game. The others are Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Stephen Curry and Jeff Teague.

Fantastic Finish

Rather than shuffle quietly into the offseason, Burke led the Jazz to an exciting 136-130 double-overtime victory over Minnesota in the final game of the season. The rookie had his best individual performance of his short professional career in the season finale, scoring a career-high 32 points to go along with nine assists, seven rebounds and a steal. Burke went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line (including 6-for-6 during the second overtime) and hit a long 3-pointer to give the Jazz a five-point lead with one minute left in the game.

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