TrueHoop: Trey Burke

Orlando Summer League: What to watch

July, 5, 2013
By D.J. Foster
Steven Freeman/NBAE/GEtty ImagesMost head coaches let their assistants handle summer league, but Jason Kidd will coach the Nets.

On Sunday, basketball will return in its most unfiltered form. That's right, it's time for summer league in Orlando.

This event has long acted as a fix for NBA junkies, but in an effort to create a little more mass appeal, a champion will be crowned on the final day.

While this may be the only time of year fans can say things like “The Orlando Magic are going to win the championship!” and not get laughed at, the pull of summer league has always been the chance to get a first look at future NBA contributors and stars. With that in mind, here are five things to watch in Orlando:

Victor Oladipo and the Great Point Guard Experiment
Ever since he was selected with the second pick in the draft, there’s been a little ambiguity added to Victor Oladipo’s future. When asked whether Oladipo was a point guard or shooting guard, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel, “We see him as a guard.”

It’s all a little odd, mainly because you rarely see teams create combo guards, both in perception and reality. Of course, it’s also interesting because in no way does Oladipo fit the profile of a natural point guard. In three seasons at Indiana, he totaled more turnovers than assists and often looked like he was dribbling one of those super bouncy balls you get for a quarter.

Still, it’s important to remember that disaster is only temporary in summer league. It’s very well possible that Oladipo struggles to run the point and takes his lumps, but it’s more important for Orlando to get a sense of what their prized pick is capable of in different scenarios. There’s no better time than summer league to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

Follow the leader?
If you had to handicap the rookie of the year race, Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke is probably the early front-runner. When talent meets fit and opportunity, good things tend to happen.

It also doesn’t hurt that six of the last eight rookie of the year winners have been ball-dominant guards. Burke should have the rock an awful lot in Utah, and Orlando will offer a sneak peek at how he uses it. Will Burke look to score every night, or will he focus on facilitating?

Maybe the most appealing part of Burke’s game is his ability to do both in the pick-and-roll, and in Orlando, he’ll have a few very intriguing dance partners.

Remember Jeremy Evans? The guy who jumped over a picture of himself dunking? He’ll be there, and so will rookie big man Rudy Gobert, who might be Mark Eaton reincarnated. Gobert’s standing reach and wingspan were the highest ever recorded in draft history, so Burke will be hard-pressed to miss his roll man as long as he throws the ball up really, really high.

Michael Carter-Williams and Holidays
Many rookies will fill the shoes of veterans, but very few will be asked to step in and take over for 23-year-old All-Stars.

That’s what Michael Carter-Williams is faced with in Philadelphia, as he’ll look to become the new franchise point guard in Jrue Holiday’s stead.

Running a team slapped together of players all trying to stand out can be tricky, but luckily for Carter-Williams, he can lean on a summer league veteran by the name of ... Holiday.

That’s right. Even though Jrue is in New Orleans, his older brother Justin will play with Philadelphia’s summer league team and act as Carter-Williams’ sidekick on the wing.

Some fans may be upset about the cold realties of rebuilding and Jrue Holiday being a casualty of it, but here’s the good news: If Justin makes the team this year and chooses the number 11, the old Philly tradition of using duct tape and a permanent marker to keep a jersey relevant can be skipped over for a year. And hey, Will Bynum is still a free agent …

The Heat double-dip
Would summer league technically count as one of the Miami Heat’s seven championships LeBron James promised upon his arrival? No?

Well, give Miami credit for trying, as the Heat will be the only team in the NBA to play in both the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues. The extended look at a few young players like second-round draft pick James Ennis and undrafted guys like Jackie Carmichael and Myck Kabongo could be big for a team that will eventually have to get a little younger. Juwan Howard won’t be around forever – or at least we think he won’t.

New Kidd
After grinding out 82 games a year for 19 seasons, most guys would probably want to take a break from it all. Relax. Maybe go fishing. But after Jason Kidd retired, there was no sleep till Brooklyn.

While other head coaches watch the spectacle from a distance and let their assistants play ringmaster, Kidd will jump right into the fray and coach the Nets in Orlando, using the time as an opportunity to get in all the reps as a head coach that he possibly can.

Summer league is often used as a development tool for players and referees, but for the first time in a long time, we'll get a view of how a high-profile coach might roam the sidelines. Will he stomp his feet at shooters like Vinny Del Negro? Will he use a timeout during the first possession of the game like Jacque Vaughn? Is he a guy who likes to stay seated like Phil Jackson, or is he a nervous towel-biter like Jerry Tarkanian? NBA fans go to know Kidd over nearly two decades, and now they'll get to do it again.

Who fits next to Dwight Howard?
The purpose of summer league isn't always to find the best players, but rather to find the best fit. A guy can score 35 points a night (like Josh Selby did in Las Vegas last year), but if he doesn't show that he can slide into a role at the NBA level, the points end up being just as important as they are on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

The objective for the members of Houston's summer league team changed drastically once Dwight Howard decided to become a Rocket. Demonstrating slash-and-kick skills is no longer as important as delivering a solid post entry pass or defending well on the perimeter to insure that Howard doesn't have to be relied on as a one-man defense like he was in Los Angeles.

Returning frontcourt players Greg Smith and Terrence Jones could stand to show off a little range and high-post passing skills, while dynamite guard Patrick Beverley could endear himself to his coaching staff by suffocating ballhandlers. Rookies guards like Isaiah Canaan, B.J. Young and Vander Blue need to show they can consistently knock down the open 3-pointers Howard will undoubtedly create.

For contenders like Miami, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Brooklyn, the objective during the six days in Orlando was always to find a complementary piece to a championship puzzle. With Dwight now on board, the same is true for Houston.

Larkin most complete point guard in draft

June, 27, 2013
By Ryan Feldman & Jordan Sperber

Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesFresh off a trip to the Sweet 16, Shane Larkin may be the draft's most complete point guard.
Who is the best point guard available in this year’s NBA Draft? After looking at Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum and Shane Larkin, the numbers suggest it may be the player who's been flying under the radar.

Jump shots

McCollum played only 12 games last season before suffering a foot injury, but his field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage easily trumped those of Burke, Carter-Williams and Larkin. McCollum was especially effective on catch-and-shoot jumpers, on which he shot better than 60 percent.

Burke and Larkin both shot 41 percent on jumpers, while Carter-Williams has been criticized for his inconsistent jump shot. He made just 28 percent of his jumpers last season.

Finishing at the rim

McCollum was the most efficient of the group in terms of scoring around the basket on non-post-up plays. He shot 57 percent and scored 1.19 points per play. Larkin and Burke both shot just under 52 percent and scored 1.05 points per play.

Carter-Williams finished at the bottom of the pack, shooting just 49 percent at the rim.


On pick-and-roll plays including passes -- which takes into account each point guard’s scoring plays and the plays they created for their teammates -- Burke was the most efficient.

Larkin was the only Division I player who created more points on pick-and-roll plays than Burke, but Burke's efficiency was just part of the package he brought to the Michigan offense.

This past season, Burke posted an offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) of 121 while being used on 29 percent of Michigan's possessions while on the floor. This combination of volume and efficiency was the best by any Big Ten player over the last 10 seasons.


Carter-Williams struggled to score efficiently, ranking last in every offensive category compared with the other three point guards. But defensively, Carter-Williams ranks above the rest.

Carter-Williams held opponents to 15 percent shooting on isolation plays last season (4-26 FG) and limited opponents to 0.26 points per play, both of which ranked among the top 10 nationally (min. 30 plays).

None of the other point guards really compare to Carter-Williams in this regard. Larkin and Burke allowed 0.68 points per isolation play, while McCollum allowed 1.00 point per play.

Carter-Williams also has the slight edge over Larkin in defending pick-and-rolls (0.62 points per play vs 0.63 points per play), each allowing about six points every 10 plays. McCollum and Burke each allowed about seven points every 10 pick-and-roll plays.

Based on the numbers above, it's not surprising that Carter-Williams led the group in steal percentage, grabbing a steal nearly once every 20 plays. However, you can argue that his high rate may be due to Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense. McCollum had the lowest steal percentage of the foursome, slightly below Burke.


Burke finished in the bottom two in five of the seven categories. Carter-Williams was last in every offensive category, but first in all of the defensive categories. McCollum’s weakness is his defense, as he ranked in the bottom two in all three defensive categories.

Meanwhile, Larkin is the only one of the four point guard prospects not to finish last in any of the metrics used above. He actually finished in the top two in all seven categories, and as a result, the numbers suggest that he is the most well-rounded of the bunch.

History says point guards are safe picks

June, 25, 2013
By Harold Shelton, ESPN Stats & Info
AP Photo/David J. PhillipTrey Burke (right) is 8th on Chad Ford’s Big Board.
If there's a safe bet to be had in the NBA Draft, history suggests it's taking a point guard in the top five.

Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, Michigan's Trey Burke and Lehigh's C.J. McCollum are currently seven, eight and nine on Chad Ford's Big Board, with Burke projected to go 7th overall to the Sacramento Kings.

But if one of them, or any other available point guard, slides into the top five, history says the team making the selection should have quite the find.

Going back 30 years, there have been 25 point guards selected in the top five. In chronological order, starting in 1990, they are:

Gary Payton, Chris Jackson (later, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), Kenny Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Chauncey Billups, Antonio Daniels, Mike Bibby, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Jay Williams, Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Mike Conley, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, John Wall and Kyrie Irving.

And this is what that group has accomplished, by the numbers:

• 15 made at least one All-Star team (Payton, Anderson, Hardaway, Kidd, Iverson, Marbury, Billups, Francis, Davis, Harris, D. Williams, Paul, Rose, Westbrook, Irving)

• 12 made multiple All-Star teams (everyone above except Anderson, Harris and Irving)

• Seven Rookies of the Year (Kidd, Iverson, Francis, Paul, Rose, Evans, Irving)

• Six won an Olympic gold medal (Payton, Hardaway, Kidd, Paul, D. Williams, Westbrook)

• Four won an NBA title (Payton, Kidd, Daniels, Billups)

• Four led the league in assists (Payton, Kidd 3 times, Marbury, Paul twice)

• Three won multiple Olympic gold medals (Payton, Paul, D. Williams)

• Two NBA MVPs (Iverson, Rose)

• One Finals MVP (Billups)

• One Most Improved Player (Jackson)

• One Basketball Hall of Fame inductee this year (Payton)

Of the 12 top-five point guards drafted before 2000, all played at least nine seasons.

And of the 13 top-five point guards drafted this millennium, eight made an All-Star team or won Rookie of the Year.

So what do you get in drafting a point guard in the top five?

History says that even at their worst, you get a serviceable player who will have a long career in the league.

At their best, they're at least an All-Star and could be one of the league’s best.