Can Alec Burks Become Utah’s Version Of Jamal Crawford?


9Jan 28, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (left) talks with Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) prior to their NBA game at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After locker clean out, Utah Jazz swingman Rodney Hood was asked about the return of Alec Burks next season and how the two would coexist. In response, Hood asserted that Burks would reclaim his spot as the team’s starting shooting guard.

A diplomatic response by the rookie and one that could ultimately prove to be true as relates to next year, but is it the answer long-term for the Utah Jazz? Perhaps not.

Given Hood’s outstanding play following February’s All-Star break, as well as the fact that a myriad of talented wings will be available during the free agency period this offseason, the role best-suited for Burks may be that of a game-changing scorer coming off the bench.

Some might view this as a demotion, but it could actually be a great move for both the player and the team. Case in point—Los Angeles Clippers super-sub Jamal Crawford.

The six-foot-five, 200 pound Crawford started nearly 400 games in his first nine seasons as an NBA player. With a killer crossover and range for days on his jumper, he was one of the better starting two-guards in the Association.

In 2010, the Atlanta Hawks asked that Crawford spearhead the team’s second unit. The guard took the move in stride, responding to the tune of 18 PPG and over 38-percent from three-point range in 31.1 minutes per game.

He did all of this while starting in exactly zero games for Atlanta and was named Sixth Man of the Year for his efforts. Crawford has continued to provide spark off the bench ever since, winning the award for a second time last season with the Clips.

Despite the fact that he’s started in only 34 games in the last six seasons, Crawford continues to bring it. If you ask me, he’s the most underrated player of the past decade in the NBA.  Earlier this month, he passed Jazz legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich on the league’s all-time scoring list.

Crawford’s path to second unit stardom potentially provides a blueprint for success that the six-foot-six, 210 pound Burks could emulate. Alec’s scoring ability could be a boon off the bench for a Jazz team that struggled with depth last season.

While Burks probably doesn’t match Crawford’s shooting range, his ability to score the ball from behind the arc has improved steadily since his days at Colorado. Last season, Burks actually led the team in three-point field goal percentage.

From our own Jared Barker’s review of Burks’ 2014-15 season:

"“We are all witnesses to the advent of the Corner Pimp! 38.1% from three? Burks is a #CertifiedCornerPimp.”"

In his 27 games last season, the Jazz offense posted a rating of nearly 104 with Burks on the floor. For the year, the team’s second unit managed 100.8 points per 100 possessions. In short, the bench could use Burks’ scoring.

So is Alec Burks the Utah Jazz version of Jamal Crawford? I think he could be.

Whether or not a transition to a reserve role is in the cards for Burks next season remains to be seen. I, for one, believe that it could be a positive change for both the Jazz and Burks going forward, should the guard be willing to accept the move.

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