With the NBA season starting this week, we’re running through mini previews of the Golden State Warriors’ 16 players, focusing on what their best and worst case scenario is for the upcoming year. We started with Ky Bowman, which you can read here. Now it’s time for Alec Burks.
Did not play
64 games, 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game
42.8% 2FG, 36.3% 3FG, 82.3% FT, 52.3% true-shooting
Role on the 2019-20 Warriors
Burks was brought in to provide wing depth - something the Warriors were sorely lacking in before cutting Alfonzo McKinnie. With McKinnie now out of the fold, Burks represents the Warriors only real backup 3 - though Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, and Jacob Evans III will move up a position from time to time, and Eric Paschall will move down.
Once healthy - Burks sprained his ankle at the start of camp and didn’t play in the preseason - the veteran wing will be tasked with backing up Glenn Robinson III, and providing intelligent decision making and quality playmaking for the bench unit.
Best case scenario
Burks played for three teams last year, and none of them were known for being offensive juggernauts. That’s been a bit of a trend through his eight-year career, which has been spent exclusively in Utah, save for those aforementioned short stints with Sacramento and Cleveland.
With a better offensive system, and arguably the league’s greatest offensive weapon in Steph Curry, Burks may find himself with more open looks this year. That’s good, because neither his career three-point percentage (35.5%), nor his career true-shooting percentage (52.4%) is particularly inspiring.
While still a little undersized at the 3, Burks’ best case scenario is playing passable defense, and funneling his man to Draymond Green and/or Kevon Looney. He’ll open up the offense and get easy looks with endless cuts to the basket, and, with the open looks the Warriors afford him, hit the 40.5% mark from downtown that he achieved during the 2015-16 season. He’ll be a legitimate bench asset, and possibly even take over Robinson’s spot in the starting lineup.
Worst case scenario
It’s already easy to see Burks’ worst case scenario, because he’s currently living it. The Warriors have yet to see him in action due to an ankle injury, and for a team that already has suffered injuries to four other players, that’s bad news.
Golden State desperately needs production from the small forward position. The fear is that Burks fluctuates in and out of health, never finds his rhythm on his fourth team in the last year, and leaves Steve Kerr scrambling for who to put in every time Robinson subs out.
Burks’ contract is guaranteed, so the Warriors can’t cut him to free up money. If worst truly comes to worst, they end up attaching an asset to Burks, so that they can trade him in December or January and add a player on the buyout market.