After a stellar performance in the NBA Bubble last season, including a 31-point performance against the Houston Rockets and averaging just over 12 points per game in the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks decided to bring back Trey Burke for another season. Despite appearing in 62 games, Burke wasn’t able to recapture the scoring prowess that made him invaluable during the Bubble.
Season in review
Burke saw some early success as the 2020-21 season got underway. During an eight-game stretch in January, he averaged 15 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals. He also shot 47.8 percent from the floor and an incredible 44.7 percent from deep. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to sustain this production and fell out of the rotation soon thereafter.
He saw his minutes and output drop dramatically after that run. In the final 47 games of the season, Burke averaged just 5.1 points on 42.1 percent shooting overall and 30.9 percent on three-pointers. Nevertheless, head coach Rick Carlisle continued to praise Burke’s work ethic throughout the season and his ability to be ready when his number was called.
His ability to stay ready is exactly why Carlisle called on Burke to make his lone start of the season on April 27. The Mavericks were in San Francisco to play the Golden State Warriors and the red hot Stephen Curry. Coming into the game, Curry had been on a tear. In his previous 14 games, he was averaging 37.6 points on 52.3 percent shooting and 46.9 percent from behind the arc. The run he was on put him back into the MVP discussion for a time. Carlisle turned to Burke to be his Steph stopper.
In the opening minutes, Burke proved that he was up to the challenge. He forced Curry into two turnovers, coming up with a steal both times, in the first quarter. Not only that, Burke had another steal, a block, and drew an offensive foul in the frame. He was simply a pest. He would go on to record one more steal during the game.
The game certainly wasn’t Burke’s best offensive performance. He finished the game with eight points on 2-of-13 shooting. However, the tone he set early on gave the Mavericks the mettle to simply outwork the Warriors for 48 minutes. Dallas won the game 122-103. Even though Burke harried him all night, Curry was still able to score 27 points. It’s hard to keep a superstar completely in check.
Burke signed a three-year, $9.45 million contract with the Mavericks in 2020. He’ll earn $3.15 million next season and has a player option worth $3.3 million for the 2022-23 season. If the Mavericks decide to trade Burke before his contract expires, he has a 7.5 percent trade kicker.
There’s still gas in Burke’s tank. As a tenth man or lower on the roster, Burke is a value-find ball handler who can occasionally light up the scoreboard. It’s just important to keep expectations in check when assessing what he can do. He turns 29 in November, so it’s pretty likely that he is what he is at this point. Given a chance to play more minutes consistently, he could potentially improve his efficiency. But right now, the Mavericks don’t even have a coach in place to assess his role going forward.