Trey Burke apologizes for nude photo leak

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke is yet another athlete who has become the victim of a recent nude photo leak. The compromising photos surfaced about a month ago but began making their way around Twitter this week. On Monday, Burke apologized for putting his family and teammates in an uncomfortable situation. “Publicly, I want […]

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Kentucky Basketball: How Far Behind Is Trey Lyles After Missing Bahamas Trip?

In the wake of the Kentucky Wildcats’ 5-1 eight-day run through international opposition in the Bahamas, college basketball analysts stateside are marveling. Journalists who’ve seen hype fail to materialize time and time again are now writing and speaking words that, to all other schools’ fanbases, have to read like warnings that a large mutant lizard is shuffling over from Japan.

The absence of junior center Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman power forward Trey Lyles has been a frequent topic of discussion, but always in a “how good will UK be when these guys are back” context. While Cauley-Stein’s experience can buy him minutes when the season begins, Lyles has no such buffer.

College basketball’s newcomers have to enjoy overseas trips not only for the cultural experiences, but the chance to gain early familiarity with their new teammates. Lyles missed out on that opportunity in the Bahamas, which makes him a very real candidate to be left behind, trailing the other eight former McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster.

How far behind will Lyles be when practice starts in October? Only the coaching staff knows for sure. By the end of the season, though, Lyles should be a key part of the rotation even if he never starts a game.

 

Invasion of the Glass-Eaters

Lyles isn’t the explosive above-the-rim defender that Cauley-Stein and Marcus Lee are. He’s not the burly earth-mover type like Dakari Johnson. He’s not a threat to spot up and hit a three from the Rupp Arena concourse’s Dunkin’ Donuts stand the way Karl Towns is. Finally, he’s not a respected perimeter defender a la Alex Poythress.

So what is he?

Primarily, Lyles is the only truly skilled low-post scorer whom coach John Calipari has in this all-stud stable. His footwork is strong and his array of moves and counter-moves dwarfs that of his more athletic teammates.

In a half-court offense, Lyles is UK’s only real threat to score on a lefty hook or a turnaround jumper. Towns possesses the ability to do so, but he’ll need to prove that he’s willing to fight through the constant contact. Inasmuch as that’s a major facet of UK’s offense, Lyles will be a valuable piece.

Last season, though, most of Kentucky’s baskets near the rim came on drives and offensive rebounds. Based on Hoop-Math.com‘s figures, only 32 percent of Kentucky’s two-point baskets were assisted last season. A further 17.2 percent came on putbacks.

Lyles is a capable offensive rebounder, but so are Cauley-Stein, Lee, Poythress and Johnson. The latter three combined for 36 offensive boards in the Bahamas, with Towns chipping in another 15. If Calipari feels that he can count on this sort of dominance against American college teams, Lyles could be in for a long season.

After all, a missed perimeter jumper can still be a great offensive play with athletes of this caliber patrolling the glass.

Calipari can tailor an offense to fit the strengths of his talent, so will he do so when Lyles is in the game? The Canadian’s playing time will increase if Calipari detects a need for more skill in the paint and greater overall efficiency within the offense.

Some of the better opponents on UK’s impressive schedule, after all, won’t surrender 58 points in the paint and 14 dunks like the Puerto Rico national reserves did.

Desperate People

The biggest concern surrounding the Kentucky offense is spacing. With so many players of limited shooting range, what’s to stop UK’s opponents from simply packing the lane and daring the Wildcats’ few snipers to hoist up threes all night?

Eventually, the arms are bound to tire on Towns, Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker, right?

While Lyles has shown an ability to stick the open three, it’s not the strength of his game. Where he can excel, however, is in the mid-range game out to about 17 feet.

A big opponent like Texaslast season’s No. 6 offensive rebounding team per Ken Pomeroy (subscription required) and a club that has only gotten stronger this offseasoncould work wonders in keeping Lee or Cauley-Stein off the offensive glass, blunting their scoring impact. Those games are where Lyles’ and Towns’ ability to pull big men away from the basket will be most essential.

Against teams possessing less length and bulk than the Longhorns (read: nearly all of them), the UK big men will face a steady diet of double-teams. Even if Lee, Cauley-Stein and Johnson can haul in an offensive carom, can they make the correct pass out of the post when they’re swarmed?

Again, Lyles and Towns are more skillful players than their veteran teammates, lacking only the experience and awareness of teammates’ tendencies. The Bahamas trip showed that Towns is already picking up the offense, judging by his 11 assists, which tied for third on the team. Dominique Hawkins, the erstwhile emergency point guard, dished that many in only six fewer minutes.

Lyles is still behind the curve thanks to his health problems, and the preseason practices in October will be pivotal for him.

 

Gimme Five?

Calipari’s platoon systemsubstituting five in and five out on regular intervals like a hockey coach calling for a line changegave all 10 healthy scholarship players significant minutes, and Calipari has indicated that it could make the occasional appearance during the season.

“I think so,” Calipari said when the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s Kyle Tucker asked him if the platoons could work in regular-season action. “And I think what happened here was, the greatest thing is everyone had a chance to show they should be playing more or less, they should be playing or not playing. You can’t say, ‘Well, I’ve never had an opportunity.’”

Even Hawkins and Derek Willis, the 11th and 12th men on the UK roster, saw significant minutes, but they’re widely expected to spend the year picking splinters once Lyles and Cauley-Stein are back in action.

But even if the Wildcats can go with a defined five starters and five reserves, how do those groups shake out?

Assuming that the Harrison twins are locked in as starters, does Cal play them off the ball with tiny Tyler Ulis in charge at the point? Do the bigs who run with that trio need to be the best athletes, best scorers or best defenders available?

For Lyles’ purposes, he has to hope that Ulis runs with the second string. Follow me here:

  • With Ulis and the twins on the first string, it locks Calipari into using Hawkins as one of the backups. That automatically costs one of the six bigsif we count Poythressa spot.
  • Poythress’ experience and impressive run in the Bahamas should earn him a starting role, and your fifth starter is very likely Cauley-Stein. A rim protector is needed in case a penetrator gets past the Harrisons, or the opposing point guard tosses a smooth entry pass over the top of Ulis.
  • The second-string backcourt would feature Hawkins and Booker, with Towns certainly locked into a role here if he’s not starting. That leaves two spots left for Johnson, Lyles and Lee.
  • While Johnson has slimmed down considerably from last season, he’s still not the dangerous defender that Lee is. If we lock Lee into a role, it pits Johnson vs. Lyles in a battle for the final spot.
  • Johnson has already proven he’s strong enough to match up with nearly any center in the SEC, if not impressive nonconference foes like Texas’ Cameron Ridley or North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks. Therefore, your second string reads: Hawkins-Booker-Towns-Lee-Johnson, with Lyles joining Willis in hoping for mop-up time.

Now, if Ulis is the second-string point guard:

  • Towns joins Poythress and Cauley-Stein on the starting front line, since the former two were certainly the two strongest Cats in the Bahamas.
  • A second-string backcourt of Ulis and Booker would need a third scoring threat to complement Lee and Johnson up front. Lyles fits the bill nicely if he can outplay Willisno small task, but one of which a healthy player with Lyles’ credentials should be more than capable.

A second string of Ulis, Booker, Lyles, Lee and Johnsonand let’s assume this split team gets custody of Williswould still be voted into the Associated Press’ preseason Top 20, if not Top 10.

The games need to start shaking outand by that we mean the real games, not Grand Canyon and UT-Arlingtonbefore we can draw any concrete conclusions about the Kentucky rotation.

In the meantime, Trey Lyles has some work to do to make sure he’s not left out of the fun. A lost freshman year for him would be a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less of a real possibility.

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Utah’s Trey Burke Reveals All of His Tattoos

Trey Burke finished his rookie season with the Utah Jazz and is preparing for his sophomore campaign this summer. He came into the league as a decorated college player and made an immediate impact for the Jazz.

NBA players have embraced tattoo culture over the past few decades and more players come into the league with tattoos each season. In the video above, Burke details the art and meaning behind each piece. 

 

Follow Trey on Instagram.

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Trey Burke relives March Madness with game-winner

Trey Burke sank the Orlando Magic in the same fashion he sank the Kansas Jayhawks.

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Utah Jazz Guard Trey Burke Nails Game-Winning Baseline 3 to Beat Orlando Magic

The 2013-14 season has been one to forget for the Utah Jazz, who have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. But even the lowliest club will have its moment of glory, as rookie point guard trey Burke demonstrated with this astonishing last-second three-pointer to beat the Orlando Magic.

Credit on the play should go not only to Burke, but also to small forward Gordon Hayward, who masterfully drew in the defense and kicked out the ball to his teammate for the winning shot.

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Mississippi’s Marshall Henderson Matches SEC Record with 60-Game Trey Streak

With 17:32 remaining in the first half of Saturday’s 75-71 loss to the No. 2 Florida Gators, Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson matched an SEC record by making a three-point shot in 60 consecutive games.

Known for his trigger-happy style, Henderson had 21 points and made five of 11 three-point attempts by halftime of Saturday’s game. His huge first half kept Ole Miss afloat, and the Rebels entered halftime tied 42-42 with a Florida team that has won a school-record 19 consecutive games.

The Gators were ultimately too much for Henderson, who scored just one point in the second half and missed all five of his shots from beyond the arc. The senior guard’s 16 three-point attempts—an insane number for nearly any other player—actually weren’t too far removed from his season average of 12.3 three-point attempts per game.

Since transferring to Ole Miss from Utah for the 2012-13 season, Henderson has made multiple three-pointers in all but one of his games for the Rebels. The senior guard was the center of the college basketball world at one point last season, after he led Ole Miss to an SEC Championship win over Florida, then memorably stood on the scorer’s table to do a “Gator Chomp”.

The Gators undoubtedly remembered that moment and likely took a bit of extra satisfaction in beating Henderson on Saturday. More importantly, Florida remained unbeaten in the SEC, while the No. 1 Syracuse Orange lost a pair of ACC matchups this week. Monday’s AP rankings should have the Gators on top.

Meanwhile, Henderson’s Rebels (16-11, 7-7 SEC) don’t appear to have a tournament-worthy resume. They’ll probably need to get hot in the SEC tournament again, and that won’t happen unless Henderson is firing on all cylinders.

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Damian Lillard, Trey Burke win Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Damian Lillard’s five-event All-Star Weekend was off to a great start.

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Which Top NBA Draft Prospect Would Fit Best with Trey Burke and Derrick Favors?

For the Utah Jazz, losses adding up also means ping pong balls adding up.

After losing 117-94 to the Miami Heat on Monday night, the Jazz now have a league-high 21 losses and are on the fast track to a top pick in the star-studded 2014 draft.

The current record of 6-21 would suggest that top pick will be headed to a bad situation, but he might actually be the final piece to a puzzle already teeming with young talent.

During the loss to the Heat, ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh had this to say about the bunch:

Alec Burks and Enes Kanter looked great Monday night, and Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke and Derrick Favors have all had showcase games over the course of this season.

Consistency is the problem right now, but that was expected. All five of these guys are 23 or younger and playing in featured roles for the first time in their NBA careers.

Once they overcome some of the growing pains and develop some chemistry, games like those listed above will become more common. I’m not saying they’ll average those kind of numbers, but they’ve all shown they’re capable of great production.

So the key to the 2014 draft for Utah is selecting someone who blends with all the talent already on the roster. And there are three prospects in this class who could be the perfect fit.

 

Jabari Parker, SF/PF

Duke’s Jabari Parker could be plugged in at small forward and contribute for the Jazz right now. Offense is his forte, and this is a team in need of a go-to scorer.

Hayward is occupying the role this season, but he’s struggling with it. His team-leading 16.9 points a game looks a little less appealing when you consider that he’s posting career worsts in both field-goal (40.5) and three-point (26.3) percentage.

He’d be more effective in support of a dynamic scorer like Parker. That’s essentially what he did last season when he shot 41.5 percent from three-point range spotting up on the wing opposite of where Al Jefferson played in the post.

Wherever Parker goes, he’ll command that kind of attention.

Monday night, he scored 21 points against Gardner-Webb, giving him eight 20-point games on the young season.

He’s averaging 22.1 points while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from three-point range.

And these aren’t a bunch of easy looks. Just watch how many contested shots he hit against Andrew Wiggins and Kansas. 

If the Jazz land Parker, his immense offensive talent will take so much pressure off all five of the other core guys.

Defenses might not be able to put their best wing defenders on Hayward. They’ll think twice about doubling down against Favors or Kanter. And they’ll be more wary of collapsing on Burke or Burks when they get to the lane.  

And Parker’s versatility will allow Utah to deploy a variety of lineups. He’ll almost certainly be a wing in the NBA, but he’s currently dominating the college game as a power forward (and occasionally as a center).

Because of that ability to play inside, Bleacher Report’s draft guru Jonathan Wasserman recently declared Parker the most complete prospect in this class, saying: 

There really isn’t a more complete prospect in the country right now. Offensively, he’s got the outside game, where he can play off the ball or create his own shot on it. He can separate off the dribble and score on the move, as well as push in transition and put pressure on the defense. 

And now, we’ve seen it all. Parker’s post game was too much for Michigan to handle, even if it didn’t result in another 20-point scoring effort. He was still able to impact the game on every possession without putting up points in volume.

Parker would be a matchup nightmare at the 4 (a juiced up version of what the Jazz currently have with Marvin Williams). And Utah could spread the floor around him with shooters like Burke and Hayward.

So from a basketball perspective, this match is as compatible as Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. Throw in the fact that he’d be instantly embraced as a cultural icon in Utah due to his Mormon faith and this is a no-brainer.

 

Dante Exum, PG/SG

Yes, Trey Burke looks like he can be Utah’s point guard of the future. He’s great at taking care of the ball, and it looks like he can shoot the three.

But the intrigue around Dante Exum might be too much to pass up, and there’s a chance that the 6’6″ guard could spend time on the floor with Burke.

Following the Nike Hoop Summit in April, Draft Express’s Matt Kamalsky talked about Exum‘s ability to play both guard positions: 

A 6’6 guard with 6’9 wingspan who appears to have added some 10 pounds of muscle to his frame since last summer, Exum stood out immediately with his speed, fluidity and ball-handling ability. Accustomed to playing the point guard position at the junior level, the strong play of floor general Dennis Schroder required Exum to adapt playing off the ball this week –a challenge he accepted without a second thought in an effort to put his team in the best position to win.

And winning is something he’s done plenty of since exploding onto the scene of the 2014 draft class.

In August, he led Australia to a bronze medal at the FIBA U-19 World Championships while averaging 18.2 points and 3.8 assists a game. 

And this month, his Lakers of Lake Ginninderra College won the national schools championship in Australia. According to Lee Gaskin of the Sydney Morning HeraldExum dropped 15 dimes in the title game.

Afterward, he said, “I knew coming into this tournament there was going to be a lot of attention towards me, but I just wanted to come out and get my teammates involved because that’s what basketball’s about.”

A 6’6″ high schooler who can happily drop that many assists in a single game conjures up visions of a young Penny Hardaway or Magic Johnson.

 

Andrew Wiggins, SF/SG

Kansas Jayhawk Andrew Wiggins is the “can’t-miss” prospect who still hasn’t sold me.

My main concern is Wiggins’ lack of a killer instinct. He spends pretty long portions of games looking disengaged or disinterested.

The fact that he’s still averaging 15.9 points and 5.9 rebounds a game is a testament to his great talent. If he was locked in for all of the 30.1 minutes he plays per game, he could comfortably average 20 points.

A franchise player should possess the kind of competitive fire that drives guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and right now it looks like Wiggins’ flame is in need of a bellows. 

None of this is to say that landing Wiggins would be a bad thing, though.

He is immensely gifted (particularly athletically) and brimming with potential. If his competitiveness and skill catches up with his physical tools, he has the potential to be a franchise star.

As such, he’d fit well alongside Utah’s franchise point guard Burke and its franchise big man Derrick Favors.

 

What if the Jazz Don’t Land a Top-Five Pick?

Parker, Wiggins and Exum all figure to be among the very first names announced on draft night, and the lottery format of the NBA draft means there’s no guarantee Utah will have one of those top picks.

Even if the Jazz finish with one of the worst records in the league, fate and bouncing balls could move them down the board.

If that’s the case, predicting who Utah would take becomes much more difficult. Assuming the Jazz go with need, small forwards would be in play for them late in the lottery.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott would be a fantastic floor spacer from that position. He’s averaging 25.3 points and shooting 45.3 percent from three-point range.

Duke’s Rodney Hood or Kentucky’s James Young could be other options.

Whomever Utah lands should be heading into a better situation than most lottery picks due to the amount of talent with which he’ll immediately be surrounded.

He won’t have to immediately be a franchise savior, just a very important piece to a puzzle that’s already coming together. 

 

All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference or NBA.com unless otherwise noted, and are current as of Dec. 16, 2013.

For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey. 

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Rookie Trey Burke delivers on NCAA hype for Utah Jazz

Trey Burke sat out of the first 12 games with a broken finger but benefited from it.

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Can Trey Burke’s Return Get the Utah Jazz Back on Track?

Turning around a 2-14 team is a lot to ask of a rookie point guard. Especially when said rookie has essentially done nothing to show that he can make the leap to the NBA.

That’s the situation in which Trey Burke and the Utah Jazz find themselves.

Neither the player nor the team was expected to be great or even good this season. Yet, somehow, both are still floundering well short of offseason expectations.

The Jazz aren’t just bad, they’re historically bad. In NBA history, there have been three teams that have averaged less than 89 points per game while giving up more than 99: the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets, the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats and the 2013-14 Utah Jazz.

Sadly, Burke hasn’t been much better. In the summer league, against NBA hopefuls, Burke averaged 8.8 points while shooting 24.1 percent from the field. In the preseason, that percentage skyrocketed to a whopping 30. Now in the regular season, Burke is shooting 33.3 percent in his four appearances.

I guess the progress is at least a little promising. However, if you actually watch the Jazz play and don’t scratch your head over Burke’s shot selection, you’re probably more forgiving than you should be.

All the pre-draft worries that surrounded Burke are coming to life and haunting the Jazz like the zombies on The Walking Dead.

At 6’1″, Burke is slightly undersized for an NBA point guard. That becomes painfully evident when he makes it to the rim on drives. Around big men at this level, he’s almost entirely incapable of getting a clean look. Heck, even against Kirk Hinrich Monday night, he was often unable to finish.

On top of that, it’s pretty tough for him to get to the rim in the first place. Because he lacks top-flight explosiveness, Burke’s drives are often cut off shortly after they begin. When that happens, he throws up a contested jump shot rather than reverse the ball to the other side.

As a result, Burke has taken twice as many shots outside of eight feet (28) as he has within that range (14), and he’s just 7-of-28 on those attempts.

Maybe this is all overly critical, but the facts are the facts.

Not to say that Burke can’t improve. Obviously, he can. Experts and analysts who’ve never played basketball at the highest level putting an arbitrary cap on a player’s potential is one of the silliest things in sports.

But right now, to expect him to lift this team (or vice versa) seems like a pretty big stretch.

It’s going to take more than any one player to get the Jazz on track. In fact, it would take all of them—playing to their specific individual strengths.

Right now, few, if any Jazz players are doing that. And that’s a coaching thing.

Gordon Hayward is not a No. 1 scoring option. They’ve tried it out, and it’s not working. As the primary scorer, Hayward is posting career lows in both field-goal (38.8) and three-point percentage (30.8).

The other 2013-14 Hayward experiment is working though. As a distributor, he’s excellent. Hayward has topped 10 assists three times this season, and the Jazz are 2-1 in those games.

He needs to focus more on creating for others and get his field-goal attempts down to around 10-11 a game like last season.

Derrick Favors needs to focus on rebounding and defense and take his offense as it comes to him through offensive rebounds, running the ball and general hustle—much like Kenneth Faried or Jordan Hill.

Enes Kanter is one of the only guys who is playing to his strengths. He’s the most skilled and consistent scorer on the team. He just needs the ball more.

Right now, he’s having to get a big chunk of his offense by attacking the boards. He’s 10th in the NBA in second-chance points at 3.9 a game. But when he does get the ball in traditional post-ups, he’s effective. He has great touch on his mid-range jump shot and excellent footwork around the rim.

As for Burke, there really is no telling what his biggest strength is at this level. He hasn’t flashed it yet.

Once he does, it will only be part of the equation.

 

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com unless otherwise noted, and are current as of Nov. 26, 2013.

For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey. 

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