Wait, so why aren’t the Knicks playing Trey Burke more?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but was inspired to finally sit down and write it after Burke scored a career-high 42 points on 19-31 shooting with 12 assists in his second start this season last night. He’s the first Knick since Bernard King to score 40 points and get 12 assists in over 30 years.

Ever since Trey Burke was called up from the G-League, he’s been performing spectacularly for the New York Knicks, so all this talk about a glut of point guards and which way to go is a bit confusing to me. It’s been 29 games with Burke and he hasn’t shown any other reason why the Knicks shouldn’t go with him.

I know the game is more than numbers, so I’ll list out a few things I’ve been impressed by with Burke:

  1. He’s a Constant Threat: Burke does bounce the ball a lot, but unlike many ball-dominant guards. he’s not just hunting shots, but he dribbles and surveys with a purpose; ready to shoot or pass to the open man. Frank Ntilikina is a great prospect, but he isn’t nearly aggressive enough on offense.
  2. Efficient Half-Court Offense: His 57.5% on anything inside the arc is efficient especially considering the vast majority of those shots that come in the half-court are mid-range jumpers. Emmanuel Mudiay may be bigger and more athletic, but his shot is inconsistent.
  3. Pick and Roll: On the play that most teams run the most, Burke is the most effective at either finding his shot vs. a big, or finding the big man on the roll.
  4. Matured and Ready: Anytime you see an post game interview with Burke, he talks about how he sees things differently since being drafted by the Utah Jazz. He appreciates whatever his role is and stays focus on the things he can control. Not to say that Mudiay and Ntilikina think differently, but that insight shows where Burke is.
  5. Still Young: Though older than Mudiay (23) and Ntilikina (19), Burke is still relatively young — only 25 years old, so putting the ball in his hands isn’t a temporary solution for a franchise that’s rebuilding as it was with Jarrett Jack at the helm.

“I try to let my play speak for itself,” Burke told Newsday. “I don’t want it to seem like it’s about me. That’s why I really don’t speak on it much. I like both. But the desire is to start. As a point guard growing up, you always dreamed of running a franchise.”

The former Naismith and Wooden award winner left the University of Michigan after his Sophomore season and was drafted by the Utah Jazz before bouncing around and ending up with the Westchester Knicks in the G-League. However, since coming up, the former-Wolverine is averaging 12 points and 4 assists (with just one turnover) in just 19 minutes a game.

He’s also shooting 52% from the field overall and a healthy 38% from three. The vast majority this as in a head-scratching reserve role. The good news? I’m a couple games late and the Knicks put Burke in the starting lineup. Let’s hope the Knicks stick with decision.

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