Editor’s note: We are starting our player previews this week, which we typically reserve for the off-season. Since the NBA’s suspended season basically lasted an off-season, we felt it appropriate to bring everyone up to speed on the roster. The posts the rest of the week will follow a more uniform format.
Trey Burke re-joined the Dallas Mavericks as part of their playoff push in Orlando, following a brief stint with the Philadelphia 76ers where he was waived in February following a multi-player trade where Sixers simply needed a roster spot. The 2013 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year will provided a needed boost to a Maverick guard rotation which is thin following season-ending surgery to Jalen Brunson and J.J. Barea’s best use as an ‘in case of emergency’ type player.
Burke played just 25 games with the Mavericks in the 2019 season, after being traded to Dallas along with Kristaps Porzingis. In the first game he played a decent amount of minutes, he scored 18 points and added five assists. Just five games later he scored 20 off the bench. Right as he was beginning to look like a reliable backup for Luka Doncic, the thing that has held him back his entire career reappeared: injuries.
After playing in only 25 of the Sixer’s 52 games, Philadelphia released Burke after acquiring another backup guard in Alec Burks. When Burke was healthy, he played pretty good basketball: spending most of his 13.2 minutes per game as the primary ball handler when Ben Simmons needed a rest, Burke averaged 5.9 points and 2.1 assists per game in these short busts.
As a Maverick in 2018-19, Burke played some of his best basketball since his first three seasons in the league.
According to Basketball Reference, Dallas is where Burke had the highest offensive rating of his career. In his time with the Mavericks, Burke shot pull up threes at a very impressive 41.9 percent, according to NBA.com/stats. A lot of these opportunities were made possible because of how well he navigated pick and roll situations. In fact, according to NBA.com/Stats, Burke was in the 91st percentile of pick-and-roll ball handlers during the 2018-19 season. Look at how effectively he uses screens to help him score:
The Mavericks get a lot of their offense from the wing when Doncic is out, so Burke generating offense as a primary ball handler would be a huge advantage to the team’s production. His efficient 3.24 assist to turnover ratio in the 2018-19 season is more evidence that Burke has the ability to be a reliable option off the bench.
That’s the name of the game for Burke in the bubble: reliability. If he can come off the bench, use the pick and roll to score, and find open teammates, his value will be much higher than whatever ends up in the box score.