With Alec Burks officially declaring for the draft, I thought I might take some time to write an official GSoM Draft Profile for him for the 2011 Community Draft Project!. Especially since it's that time again (playoff time!), and Warriors fans, as we're accustomed to doing, have nothing better to do than think about the draft. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve attempted to watch Colorado play whenever possible (in other words, if they’re on national TV), so I think I’m somewhat qualified to offer an opinion on him. First, let’s take a look at what the draft pundits have to say:
He’s currently ranked #7 on their prospect rankings (check out their rankings for yourself to give their site some hits!), and that includes guys like Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger who may not enter the draft. Not good news for the W’s if he ends up out of our reach. They have not updated his profile since Jan 1, 2010, so I will exclude comments for now but look to add them later.
He’s currently ranked #12 on their prospect rankings (check out their rankings for yourself to give their site some hits!), but unlike NBADraft.net, they aren’t including guys who have indicated they’re currently planning on returning to school. Their latest profile of Burks:
As an indication of how much he has progressed, Burks now ranks fourth in scoring on a per-40 minute basis amongst the top 100 NCAA prospects in our database,. It's not just the quantity of points he accumulates that intrigues NBA teams, though, but how he gets his offense.
Burks is a shot creator, a skill that is highly coveted at the professional level. Over two-thirds of his offense is generated by himself, be it in isolation situations, in transition or in pick-and-roll opportunities. He ranks in the top five amongst our top 100 prospects in free throw attempts, and (more impressively) is second overall in makes because of the stellar 82.4% he shoots from the line.
Capable of driving in either direction, Burks is a smooth yet explosive slasher with an outstanding second gear. He has excellent speed in the open floor and the body control and ball-handling skills needed to slither his way around opponents and get to the rim.
Burks is not yet a great finisher around the basket, as indicated by his sub-50% 2-point percentage. He must continue to fill out his frame as he struggles to finish through contact in traffic. He's a scorer through and through, though. He uses the glass nicely with reverses and such and has a knack for finding a way to put the ball in the basket, even in tight spaces.
Unlike most big-time scorers from small(er) colleges, Burks is a fairly unselfish player who is more than capable of making the extra pass. Even if he's often asked to be the one creating and finishing shots for his team (particularly late in the shot clock), he's a nice weapon to have in a half-court offense thanks to his solid court vision and good basketball IQ. When Colorado's starting point guard goes to the bench, Burks will man the position, which is a good indication of the versatility he brings to the table.
Defensively, Burks is somewhat of a mixed bag, but he shows good potential on this end of the floor. With his good size, nice length, excellent lateral quickness and solid anticipation skills, he has all the tools needed to guard his position successfully in the NBA.
He generally puts in a good effort on the defensive end, getting low in his stance and often guarding the opposing team's best scorer—and doing so effectively for the most part. He already ranks as the second-best rebounding wing player in this draft class (after Travis Leslie), which has to be considered a good sign.
With his narrow frame and lack of strength, Burks has some issues fighting through screens and will lose his focus occasionally, but based on what we're seeing there's no reason he can't be a good defender at the NBA level.
One area of his game in which scouts surely would have liked to see more progress this season is his jump shot. He doesn't take (or make) many 3-pointers—he's just 21 of 69 on the season from this range--but he is streaky from mid-range too, a place many Big 12 teams have forced him to operate from by taking away the paint with help-side defense. Burks has converted just 54 of 184 (29%) jumpers this season, largely due to his struggles shooting off the dribble (30 of 118, or 25%).
Burks creates good separation from defenders in the mid-range area, but he has a tendency to shoot off balance. He tends to kick his legs out on attempts and not square his shoulders to the basket. His shot selection also leaves something to be desired—he makes just enough bad shots to lead him to believe he should be taking more off-balance, contested attempts, but not enough to lead his team to a better than 7-7 record in the Big 12 thus far.
With his feet set, Burks shows nice shot-making potential, often just throwing the ball in the rim in difficult situations. The minimal arc he gets on his jump shot doesn't leave him very much margin for error.
This is an important factor in assessing Burks' NBA potential, as it's unlikely that he'll have the ball in his hands quite as often as he does at Colorado. If he can find a way to become a more consistent outside shooter, his transition to the NBA will be much smoother—something Evan Turner has learned the hard way as a rookie this season.
As we learned with Turner, whichever team drafts Burks will need to put him in a role that suits his strengths, alongside teammates that complement him. The learning curve Burks has shown over the past two years is intriguing, though. There's a pretty good chance he's nowhere near his full potential at the moment, especially given his late growth spurt and the fact that he's one of the youngest members of his draft class, not turning 20 until July.
In a draft that looks increasingly shallow at the wing position, Burks stands out with his shot-creating skills and scoring instincts. If he can convince a team that his long-range shooting won't be too much of an issue in the NBA, he'll be a popular name during the pre-draft process.
ESPN: Well, ESPN can piss off. I don’t have access to any of their crap. Definitely avoiding going to their site so you don’t give them hits. Bastards. Evanz has provided a profile from Chad Ford. Here it is!
Chad Ford's profile
Projection Milwaukee Bucks
(No. 10 pick)
Long, athletic 2 guard
Great scoring instincts
Can kill you in multiple ways
Explosive leaper and finisher around the basket
Needs to add strength/weight
Streaky perimeter shooter
Lacks range on the three ball
Gets caught standing around when he doesn’t have the ball
Now, on to my own assessment of Burks as a prospect, and then to his potential fit for the Warriors:
As an athlete, I think Burks is a good prospect. He’s tall, he appears long (I’ll update with combine information when it comes out), and he’s athletic. His only major weakness, physically, is his strength, as he’s on the skinner end and probably will never be all that big. He has a very nice combination of height, length, and movement abilities (he’s fairly quick, definitely fast, and a smooth athlete) to more than make up for it, though. He’s not an elite athlete at all – don’t expect a Wade or Iguodala combination of physical traits, but he should be above average by NBA standards.
Burks skillset is a mixed bag.
Offense: I think his biggest strength is his ability as a slasher off the dribble. He gets to the rim frequently – he was 3rd in the entire NCAA in both FTA’s and FTM’s, and did it while shooting a nice 82.5% from the line. FT’s are the most efficient shot in basketball, people, so you have to like that. Drawing fouls is a skill, and it’s something Burks excels at, and I expect it to translate nicely to the NBA from the start. Burks can handle the ball well – he’s no PG, so don’t expect him in that role, but he’s definitely comfortable creating off the dribble. From time to time he displays nice vision and basketball IQ, and generally takes pretty sound shots and makes very nice passes on occasion (over 62% TS% as a freshman, 57.4% last year), but he’s definitely a scorer first, passer second.
The biggest question marks for Burks on offense are his shooting, and his ability to play off the ball, which are somewhat related. Burks can’t shoot. Well, that’s a little harsh, but he’s not a very good shooter. His form isn’t great, and he has a really flat shot, and all you have to do is look at his %’s to reach the same conclusion. He only took 96 3PTA’s this past season on 535 FGA’s (and remember, he went to the line a lot), while hitting a weak 29.2% of them. Last year he did better at 35.2%, but this is still college ball we’re talking about, not good for an NBA prospect. The good news is shooting is something that can be corrected. So, he can’t shoot, and as DE’s article mentions, he creates a ton of looks for himself. That’s good in one sense, but bad in another – what’s he going to do when the ball isn’t in his hands? It’s a big question. He didn’t stand out to me as moving well without the ball when I watched him play, though he wouldn’t play off the ball all that often, anyways. As we’re seeing with Evan Turner this year, not shooting and not playing well off the ball are a serious concern. I haven’t seen enough to really judge what he can do, so at this point, I have to leave it as a question mark, though one I'm defiinitely concerned about.
Defense: I think Burks has nice defensive potential. He’s definitely appropriately sized for a wing, and has all the physical tools to be solid on that end. At Colorado, he and Cory Higgins were pretty interchangeable – they’re almost the exact same player (Burks is just a younger and more athletic version of that player), so there really wasn’t much going on from a strategy/matchup perspective. Burks took the tougher wing more often, so that’s a good sign. He generally played solid D, though from time to time I saw him lose focus and intensity. He didn’t show the intensity of a defensive stopper, so I wouldn’t expect that, but he showed the physical tools and enough commitment to it that I expect him to be a solid wing defender.
Overall: I think Burks will be a solid player overall. Solid on offense, but it would really help him to learn how to shoot. He could be a very nice offensive player if he did that, especially with his ability to get to the line. If he became a legitimately good shooter, we’re talking about Kevin Martin-like potential, only a better passer. That’s probably on the very high end of expectations for him. Should be solid on D. What’s the one area I haven’t covered yet? Rebounding! Burks is an excellent rebounder. He spent all his time playing wing and PG, so his rebounding numbers are not inflated, but for a wing, he does excellent in this regard. This has a couple of implications. First, he should be a very good wing rebounder in the NBA, as rebounding translates very well from college to the pros. Second, there’s a general correlation between college rebounding and how well other skills translate to the NBA. I don’t know why, exactly, but it’s a good sign for Burks. Burks is also only 19 years old (turns 20 in July). So he has a number of things going for him. Overall, he’s fairly good prospect, and could definitely turn into a long time starter in the league. I do not think he has star potential – he’s just not exceptional enough at anything and doesn’t have the elite athleticism, but he has potential to be very solid in every aspect of the game. The main question is – what’s he going to do when he moves up to the next level and is no longer good enough to dominate the ball on offense?
I think he would be a solid fit for the Warriors, and given how weak the draft is (especially if all these guys really go back to school), I would definitely take him, though there's a good chance he will not be there for us. He’ll give our wing rotation more depth, and he fits a number of our needs. He would give us more size and rebounding from the wing, he would give us more defense, and another guy who can get into the lane and to the line, something we were worse at than anyone else in the NBA this past season.