The Magic have a lot of needs right now. This is, after all, Year Two of a rebuild that could take several years to complete. Certainly it will take another year. The Magic are not in a hurry to win quite yet — the 2014 Draft and 2015 free agent class is when Orlando appears to be planning to make their major moves for the future.
That does not mean Orlando is not thinking about the future. Acquiring Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris were moves with an eye toward the future and collecting assets the Magic can begin rebuilding with and around. This year's Draft pick — or whatever it becomes — will be part of that.
And so with some solid young pillars in place at center, power forward and small forward, a lot of fans have turned their attention toward the point guard position. That is where longtime starter Jameer Nelson has manned the helm, but everyone sees the end of his career coming — or at least he end of his effectiveness as a starter. His value as a leader could quickly become outstripped by his physical limitations as an aging veteran.
In steps the fascination with Trey Burke, perhaps the best point guard available in this Draft.
Burke is a strong point guard candidate who very well could have been a first round pick after his freshman year two years ago. His decision to stay proved to be a good one as he improved and led Michigan to the national championship game.
He showed better leadership and some improvement with his shooting and point guard abilities. He did not answer all the questions though about his weaknesses — such as his quickness or his overall skills as a potential NBA point guard.
When it comes to being the leader a point guard needs to be, nothing is better than reaching the national championship game. That is where Michigan got for the first time since the Fab Five (if we are still counting those wins, which is another issue entirely).
Still, there is some leeriness about using the No. 2 overall pick on Burke. Scouts still have their questions about him even though he has done about everything he can as a college point guard.
The Good: Burke seems to have all the skills you could want in a modern point guard. He understands how to run a team and pick his moments to score and can do so effectively.
Last year at Michigan, Burke averaged 18.6 points per game, shooting 46.3 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc. His effective field goal percentage was at 53.0 percent last year with a 28.9 percent possession rate according to stat sheet. He added 6.7 assists per game last year. And, obviously, took his team to the national championship game. Burke had 24 points in that championship game loss to Louisville.
Burke is a guy who is good at scoring in the pick and roll and fits the NBA mold of point guards in the modern game. He is an expert with the ball in his hands and the offense running through him.
The best part is that he still seems to be trending upward. Burke improved tremendously as a playmaker and point guard in his sophomore year from his freshman year. He already won the Naismith Award as the national player of the year. There is not much more he can do at the college level.
He has accomplished a lot in two years and seems ready for the challenge ahead.
The Bad: While Burke fits the NBA point guard mold as a pick and roll maestro, there are still questions about his ability as a point guard at the next level, particularly as a playmaker and distributor. His assists rose to 6.7 per game which was good for 12th nationally. This is not about his ability to create and dish to the open man. His assist rate of 37.2 percent was still best in the Big Ten.
The question then is really about whether he can dominate at the NBA level like he did in college considering his slim 6-foot, 190-pound frame. There are questions about his athleticism and speed translating to the next level. Maybe that is fair, probably it is not. It sounds like "scout talk."
Yet, when you watch Burke, you see lots that is good but nothing that is absolutely spectacular. Maybe that is a common refrain in this Draft. This is a guy that can do a lot with space, but can he create it for himself against elite point guards in the NBA? That question cannot be adequately answered at the college level.
You also have to ask whether Burke can be effective as a scorer, his best skill, without the basketball. Can he become a spot-up shooter consistently or does he need to work with the ball in his hands. For as many great games Burke had, he had his duds too. He can get lost within an offense when he is not able to get the ball. And when he struggles to score, he will keep getting his shots.
The good news is, he can still operate as a point guard. If he makes the right plays consistently enough, he can be a strong player.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: "Point guard with tremendous heart and determination … Many of the cliche attributes fit him: A natural born killer. Fearless warrior. Fierce competitor. Has a will to win. Will battle tooth and nail on every possession. Mind over matter guy who brings intangibles that don't show up on the box score. Clutch performer who seems to shine when it matters most … A tremendous leader. Relishes the opportunity to take the club on his back and carry them to victory
"Undersized for the PG position and could struggle some to compete with bigger, quicker and more athletic point guards at the NBA level … Scouts worry that he may run into similar problems as 2011 top 10 pick Kemba Walker: having many passes deflected due to his size and having to work twice as hard (defensively and getting shots off) on a game to game basis due to his size. Can he be a starting PG, and if so can he do it on on a winning team? Due to being undersized, these questions must be asked … He doesn't show the jitterbug quickness to gain separation on quicker guards which is a concern considering his size"
Final Word: Burke is an incredibly intriguing prospect. He has all the skills to be a great point guard in the league. He is a guy with a good knack for the pick and roll, is a willing and strong passer and is a great shooter. This guy should have NBA written all over him. There is no doubt he will go high in this year's Draft. But his size remains a question mark as does his quickness. You also wonder some whether he can generate offense without the ball. That may not matter much as a point guard, but he will have to continue to develop and learn how to dcontrol the game as a point guard at all points.