New York Knicks fans tend to get overexcited about new acquisitions. Trey Burke is the latest victim of this unfortunate pattern of behavior.
Quinn Cook. Elliot Williams. Brady Heslip. Manny Harris. Justin Dentmon. What do these seemingly random dudes have in common? They are the last five players to lead the G-League in scoring. Cook — the reigning G-League scoring champ and former Rookie of the Year — is the only one to see time in the NBA this season.
Knicks fans should take that into account before they anoint new point guard Trey Burke, their G-League savior. New York fans tend to overreact to new acquisitions and this one is no different; despite how minor it may appear on the surface. Getting excited about Burke is tempting.
He is a former National College Player of the Year at Michigan — where he played with current Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. — and a top ten pick in the famously horrible 2013 NBA Draft. He was frequently compared to Kemba Walker upon entering the league.
Now he’s fallen on hard times; forced to accept a contract with New York’s G-League team in Westchester. It’s a comeback story, and everybody loves a comeback.
But don’t let Burke’s ridiculous stats fool you. He may have the Westchester Knicks in first place, he may be putting up nearly 27 points per game, and he may be making nearly 50 percent of his shots and over 40 percent of his threes, but there’s plenty of reasons to be more skeptical than not.
Remember Chasson Randle? That’s a little blast from the not so distant past for Knicks fans there. Randle shot his way into fans hearts with a star-like performance during the summer league before putting up good numbers in the G-League again. The numbers were so good that Philadelphia signed Randle to a contract.
The Sixers cut him after he appeared in just eight games and the Knicks picked him up. He appeared in only 18 games last season for New York and didn’t make the team in 2017-18 after a dreadful showing in the preseason.
Then there’s Burke’s himself. There’s a reason the Knicks were able to sign him and unceremoniously waive him three days later in mid-October. He’s been a colossal bust since that phenomenal college career ended. The 25-year-old played two years at Michigan — one year longer than most top prospects typically do it now — and moved on to the Utah Jazz.
It was a bad fit. He shot well below 40 percent from the field in two of his three seasons with the club. While in Utah, Burke averaged 12.1 points per game on exactly 12.1 FGA per game. The former Big Ten Player of the Year was traded out of Utah after falling out of the rotation. His value was so low that the Washington Wizards were able to obtain him for just a 2021 second round pick.
The Wizards hoped he’d become a reliable backup point guard for John Wall. It didn’t work out. He averaged career-lows of five points and 1.8 assists per game. He was predictably replaced as the backup by former Knicks point guard Brandon Jennings. Burke rarely saw the court after Jennings joined the team.
So Knicks fans might be happy now, but they were excited about Jennings too — a guy whose game is similar to Burke’s. That’s not a compliment by the way. Knicks Twitter couldn’t wait to run that guy out of town. Fans were rooting against the Wizards in the playoffs just to smite Jennings. They rejoiced when Jennings too was a flop in D.C.
Keep in mind; the Wizards still thought Jennings was better than your new hero.
The Knicks have lost 11 of their last 14 games and are set to begin a brutal stretch Monday of seven of their next eight games on the road. Being one of the worst road teams in the league — 4-15 record — this could be a make or break trip for New York. Burke is probably nothing more than an interesting storyline right now to take attention away from a slumping squad on the brink of doom.
Trey Burke’s name may stand out more than the anonymous G-League scoring stars that came before him, but he’s still doing things in the G-League. Until some consistency carries over into the NBA, Knicks fans should ignore what their new point guard did in the minor leagues.