With the Milwaukee Bucks still looking to fill the final spot on their roster, they should seriously consider signing point guard Trey Burke.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ off-season is nearly complete. Fourteen of the 15 spots on their roster are now filled after the Bucks’ recent signing of Kyle Korver. That leaves Milwaukee with one more slot available to sign someone if they so choose.
With that final roster spot still open, the Milwaukee Bucks should give serious consideration to signing point guard Trey Burke.
Burke was initially a well-regarded prospect when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the ninth pick of the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. The perception around him at that time was that he could develop into a starting point guard, and potentially more if everything clicked.
Burke had a decent rookie season in 2013-14, averaging 12.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game. His shot efficiency left much to be desired, as he shot just 38 percent from the field and 33 percent from three on 4.8 attempts per game. But, there was reason to believe he would get better over time, especially as he learned to refine his shot selection.
Burke’s development, however, went the other way. The following year, he shot just 36.8 percent from the field. His inefficiencies with his shot, coupled with other flaws in game, caused him to lose his starting role.
Burke then saw his minutes reduced further in the following two seasons despite making some improvements in his shot efficiency. He played 21.3 minutes per game in 2015-16 for the Jazz, but was traded after that season to the Washington Wizards.
In Washington, he played just 12.3 minutes per game in 2016-17. It looked like his NBA career was in serious danger.
Fortunately for him, the New York Knicks were willing to bring him on during the 2017-18 season. Burke didn’t disappoint with his chance in New York.
Burke played 36 games for the Knicks in 2017-18, only nine of which he started. In the 21.8 minutes per game that he played, he averaged 12.7 points, 4.7 assists, and two boards while shooting a stellar 50.3 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from three. He emerged as a real spark plug on an otherwise awful Knicks team.
Much of what excited about Burke’s stellar run in New York that season was the tangible improvements he made in his shot. Burke improved his shooting efficiency in two areas.
First, he finally had an extended run where he shot a very good percentage within 10 feet of the basket. Burke had struggled to get to and finish at the rim throughout his first few seasons in the league. In 2017-18, he shot above 60 percent for the first time from that distance, shooting 63.7 percent on his 2.5 attempts per game.
Burke also continued to expand on his ability be a good catch-and-shoot option from distance. Burke was just a 33.7 percent shooter on catch-and-shoot threes his rookie year, but he made tangible improvements in limited minutes in 2015-16 (shot 40 percent on three attempts), and 2016-17 (43.1 percent on nearly one attempt per game), while 2017-18 saw him shoot his best percentage relative to volume on those shots, shooting 41.5 percent on catch-and-shoot threes on 1.8 attempts per game.
Last season, he wasn’t quite as impressive as his run in 2017-18 was, but he still posted very respectable stats. Burke averaged 10.9 points, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 boards in 19.1 minutes per game on 43.1 percent shooting from the floor and 35.2 percent from three. Burke’s efficiency, especially with his shot, was much better after he was traded to Dallas (He shot 46.3 percent there in 25 games compared to 41.3 percent in 33 games in New York). He continued to show himself to be a solid role option at point-guard off the bench.
Trey Burke would make a lot of sense on the Milwaukee Bucks roster. Though he may not be the superstar point-guard many were hoping he’d be when he was drafted, Burke has proven himself to be a good role player in recent seasons.
First, Burke would provide a solid scorer off-the-bench. He’s learned to refine his shot selection and has reshaped himself into be a capable off-ball option on offense. The fact that he’s shot over 40 percent on catch-and-shoot threes over a not insignificant sample size in three of the past four seasons shows that he’s become a decent off-ball option.
He can also create his own shot with a good deal of success. Burke shot 47.1 percent on step-back jumpers last season on 38 attempts, and 41 percent on pull-up jumpers on 117 attempts. He’s a threat not only in transition, but also on drives and in isolation. The Bucks currently lack a guy in their second unit who can excel at creating their own offense in the half-court.
His points per 36 minutes average has now exceeded 20 points in back-to-back seasons. That speaks to the kind of scoring threat he can pose in even a limited number of minutes.
Beyond his scoring ability, Burke has also shown himself to be a solid distributor of the ball. He’s posted better than a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in each of the past two seasons. He would give the Bucks another creator/facilitator on a team that lacks clear options in that area on their bench right now. Burke could be superior in this regard to veteran George Hill or two-way player Frank Mason III, the two point guards he would be competing against for playing time.
Burke is also capable of being at least a passable defender when he puts in the effort. His height is on the lower-end of the current crop of point guards in the league (he stands at 6’1″), and therefore he’ll never be a great defender, but he can at least do enough to not have himself played off the floor when he’s focused and motivated.
Given that the Milwaukee Bucks are missing a player with his skills, and the fact that they are still relatively light at point-guard, signing Trey Burke to fill their final roster spot would make a lot of sense. He’s exactly the kind of dynamic offensive player that could fit a defined role and excel in Mike Budenholzer’s system.