Can Trey Burke and Dante Exum Coexist in the Jazz Backcourt?
It was only a year ago the Suns were considered the laughing stock of the league, placed dead last in numerous preseason power rankings and often referred to as true tankers by nearly everyone (excluding some die-hard Suns fans).
Little did the basketball world know what laid ahead for the franchise, as the team ended up finishing just one game shy of the 8th seed in the Western Conference, proving to be one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Much of that success can be attributed to their exceptionally dynamic backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
Although the two only played together for nearly half the season, the difference they made for Phoenix changed the landscape of their record completely.
With Bledsoe and Dragic in the starting lineup, the Suns were an impressive 23-11.
One team that shares a similar feel of skepticism heading into this season much like the Suns did last year has to be the Utah Jazz (No I’m not saying they’re making the playoffs next season).
Like Phoenix, they possess a young roster that’s mainly unproven. What’s even more alike though is that they also have an extremely versatile backcourt comprised of two point guards in Trey Burke and Dante Exum.
This duo could become the new face of the franchise if they can find similar success like Bledsoe and Dragic did. But in order to do so, many areas of their game must coexist if they’re to eventually lead the city back to at least some form of mediocrity in the next few years.
One reason the Jazz may have found it beneficial to place two point guards in their backcourt is due to Trey Burke’s pedestrian assist numbers, averaging only 5.7 per game.
Even though Dante Exum isn’t considered a true pass-first point guard, inserting him into the lineup may help their offensive efficiency, as the team ranked a dismal 26th in assists per game last season.
If the two can mesh together and learn how to distribute the ball in an even flow, their team’s scoring production will surely increase and result in even more open opportunities for teammates.
When Exum was asked about how the two will be able to work together offensively, he had this to say:
“We work as a team… If [Burke] needs a break at the point guard, I’ll take it. If I need a break at point guard, he’ll take it. We work together and nobody’s trying to steal anything from anyone. Coach Snyder’s definitely going to put in a system where we can succeed. I know that if we stick to what coach says, it can be a good thing.”
The biggest area of concern for this backcourt has to be how they’ll coexist in the scoring department.
Last season Trey Burke really struggled to find consistency on the offensive end, shooting a dismal 38.0 percent from the floor and 33.0 percent from behind the arc.
Like Burke, Exum also has a hard time knocking down buckets from three point range, with his perimeter shot being considered one of the biggest weaknesses of his game and currently even far worse than Burke’s.
In order for these two to remain effective offensively, it’s essential Burke becomes more adept from three point range so opposing defenses begin to open up the lanes and allow Exum to thrive at what he does best – slashing inside.
Although Dante Exum’s humongous wingspan and elite lateral quickness makes him appear like he’s a top-tier defender, so far he’s shown he has much work to do on that end of the floor, as opponents in summer league have been able to score on him with ease.
Unfortunately Trey Burke struggles with this issue as well, as he posted one of the worst defensive ratings out of all guards in the NBA last season.
If Burke and Exum are to thrive together, it’s essential they both work on their defensive prowess so they’ll be able to contain opposing backcourts on a consistent basis.
If not, Salt Lake City could be in for a long and miserable ride until these two find ways to improve on the defensive end of the floor.
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