Alec Burks Isn’t the Cure-All Utah Jazz Fans Expect


While Alec Burks will help the Utah Jazz in their struggle to capture a spot in the NBA Playoffs, his return is far from a cure-all for the team’s problems.

Before I begin, let me make one thing clear–I miss Alec Burks.

I’ve missed him almost as much as the Utah Jazz have while struggling to tread water in the Western Conference playoff race. It’s a sentiment shared by Jazz fans everywhere, as is the hope that his return from a broken leg will be the difference in getting the Jazz over the hump in the west.

Call me the devil’s advocate, a naysayer or a pessimist of the highest order, but I think it’s going to take more than Burks’ return to get the Jazz to the NBA Playoffs.

As integral to the team as he is, Burks isn’t the cure-all for the team’s recent woes. In fact, whatever ammunition he does bring to the playoff arms race could be too little, too late for the Jazz.

Don’t misunderstand me; Burks is a special talent with a unique skill set that the team has desperately missed. As much as I love Chris Johnson‘s defense and hustle, I find myself yearning for the return of the man Jazz TV announcer Craig Bolerjack calls “Houdini” every time CJ takes the floor.

Simply put, the Jazz are just better when he plays. In my recent rap on the Jazz point guard situation, I pointed out the fact that the team’s best five-man lineup this year has been with Burks running point in the triple-wing with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood.

That unit (with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt) has outscored opponents by nearly 15 points per 100 possessions this year. So, it stands to reason that bringing Burks back into the fold will result in more of the same, right?

Well, maybe. But it’s far from a certainty.

Burks hasn’t played in a game since December; what can we reasonably expect from him after having surgery to repair a fractured fibula and missing nearly three months of action? He may be getting close to 100 percent, but what does that even mean?

Will Burks be in full NBA game shape and ready to put in the 30 minutes of high-level hooping each night as some fans seem to expect upon his return? I’m no doctor, but it seems unlikely. I expect minute restrictions initially and multiple games of reacclimating to his teammates, getting into game shape and building confidence in his surgically repaired leg.

What’s more, there’s no guarantee that Burks will be back in time to have a major impact on the playoff race. The Jazz are currently four games under .500 with only 20 games remaining and reports out of Jazzland indicate that he could still be weeks away from returning to practice–

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Burks comes back with a bang, does so sooner rather than later and the Jazz shoot up the standings as a result. However, we must also recognize that there’s a real chance Burks returns to a team that is several games below .500 and is unable to shake off the rust in time to help change the team’s fortunes.

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In either case, the Jazz still have a problem at the point guard position and a shortage in the depth department. Burks is a nice Band-Aid in either case, but he probably doesn’t solve the problem.

So while Jazz Nation clamors for the return of Alec Burks–and I’m right there with them–he may not be the missing link to a playoff berth that many expect him to be.