Utah Jazz’s Alec Burks: “I Made Sure I’m Ready”

Dec 31, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) works out prior to the game against the Phoenix Suns at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) works out prior to the game against the Phoenix Suns at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Alec Burks is exhibiting optimism and excitement as he prepares to make his season debut in the Utah Jazz’s contest tonight against the Brooklyn Nets.

In less than half an hour, the Utah Jazz will tip off against the Brooklyn Nets in the first game of a five-game road trip. And while they’ll be without point guards Dante Exum and George Hill, the team got a bit of good news this morning as it was reported that Alec Burks, who has been sidelined due to ankle rehab, will make his debut tonight.

Burks figured to be a big part of a Jazz bench that was slated to be one of the best in the league. He’s an incredible rim protector and an elite athlete capable of keeping opposing defenses on their toes. At his best, he would certainly serve as an incredible spark plug for the Jazz off the bench.

And not only can he collapse opposing defenses by attacking the paint, but last year he displayed a much improved three-point shot as he converted on 40.5 percent of his attempts albeit in a small sample size of just 31 games.

Related Story: Utah Jazz: What Does the Future Hold for Alec Burks?

While it may take Burks some time to get back to that old self that fans are accustomed to, it’s nonetheless extremely positive to have him back in action. And from the sound of things, the long and patient grind that he had to take to get back to health will very much pay off and he is feeling extremely confident. In a recent Deseret News report, Burks said:

"“I’m very excited. I know my leg’s strong, I made sure I’m ready. I didn’t rush back — I’m stable now. I love to play this game and I miss it, so it’s going to be a very exciting time.”"

Burks originally went down when he broke his leg following a hard foul from Los Angeles Clippers veteran Paul Pierce, but managed to come back for a few games to end last season. After undergoing ankle surgery early in the season, though, it set him back even further. When you put all that together, he hasn’t truly played at full health in over a year, dating back to that fateful Clippers game.

But we’ll find out soon and beginning tonight whether Utah’s patience in bringing Burks back into action will truly pay off. In that same Deseret News piece, head coach Quin Snyder had a few words of caution for fans who are bursting at the seams with excitement to see Burks play:

"“He hasn’t played in a year. People are going to watch him play tonight and going to evaluate him. To me, it’s not worthwhile. To me, the evaluation is that he’s going to play. We need to be patient with his play, not only his play but how much. I would be surprised if it’s double-figz minutes. We want to see how he is. That’s the main thing.”"

So while according to Snyder, Burks could see less than ten minutes tonight, it will nonetheless be exciting to see him suit up once more and take his first step back to becoming a force for this Utah Jazz team.

More than anything, Utah should hope that he can work his way back to health so that once the playoffs roll around, Burks can become their ultimate sixth man type player, burning opposing teams’ second units and adding a deadly scoring punch when Utah’s lead guys are taking a breather.

Burks is capable of being a lead guy himself, so being able to use him in that way would be an enormous luxury for the Jazz.

And while Snyder is preaching caution and more patience, it’s pretty apparent that Burks’ teammates are anxious to have him back as well. In regards to his return, Gordon Hayward emphatically said, “Oh man, were excited for him, ready to get him back out on the court. He knows that.”

This Utah team has displayed chemistry and cohesion all season long and it’s apparent that Burks is a part of that Jazz family as well.

It’s great to hear that he’s optimistic and feeling good, that his teammates are excited and that Coach Snyder feels confident that he’s ready to undergo a test run.

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Fans shouldn’t expect the world out of him tonight, but his return is plenty reason to tune in to tonight’s game against the Nets and to be anxious about what lies ahead for Burks and this rising Jazz squad.

Related Story: Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets: Keys to the Game

We’re getting ever so close to being fully healthy, folks, and once we do, all those “watch out’s” that we proffered earlier in the season may finally become a realistic threat.