Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Alec Burks

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 29: Alec Burks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 29: Alec Burks (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Alec Burks has struggled to stay healthy in his last several seasons with the Utah Jazz and is running out of time to prove his worth to the team.

To say that Alec Burks has had a rough career with the Utah Jazz would be a mighty understatement. Despite the fact that he’s shown moments of extraordinary promise, by and large Burks has been injured for most of his time as a Jazzman. His 42 games played last season were his most since the 2013-14 campaign which was far and above his most successful year given that he was able to log 78 games.

When he’s been healthy, Burks has exhibited the ability to be a superb playmaker and an oft times electrifying finisher. However, considering all the struggles he’s had to remain healthy, that’s been far from the case of late. In fact, last year he was one of the least consistent finishers in the league, albeit in limited minutes.

While Burks was once seen as an exciting piece of Utah’s young core, he’s quickly transformed into somewhat of a financial burden who’s done little to help the Jazz find success. In fact, some Jazz fans were quite certain that he would no longer be on the roster heading into the 2017-18 season, but barring a major surprise, it appears he most certainly will be.

And with that being the case, Burks will need to prove himself quickly if he hopes to remain a part of this Jazz team or in the league as a whole at all. At just 26 years old and with some solid experience under his belt, there’s no denying that he has the potential to bounce back and revamp his career, but considering all the times he’s fallen victim to injuries, it would be somewhat surprising if he did so.

Best Case Scenario

With the departure of Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz are in desperate need of reliable scorers who can help keep their offense afloat. While several folks have indicated that wing players such as Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles are going to have to be among the major ones to step up for Utah next season, it would also be extremely beneficial if Burks could as well.

Back in 2013-14, he averaged a solid 14 points per game and if Utah was able to get anywhere near that production out of him, it would be an enormous win.

But in simple terms, Alec Burks’ best case scenario begins and ends with his ability to stay on the floor. If he’s one hundred percent healthy throughout the year and can at a minimum provide solid minutes and a scoring punch off the bench, this would be absolutely ideal for him and his fans.

Of course, if we want to get really optimistic, I suppose that I could pin Burks’ best case scenario as him fully rounding back to form, becoming the reliable playmaker many thought he could shape up to be, finding his 40 percent stroke from deep that he exhibited in the few games he played in 2015-16 and ultimately challenging Rodney Hood for the starting gig or taking it entirely. However, his past injury history seems too daunting of a challenge for this to be realistic.

Perhaps that caliber of player still resides within Burks and can break out at some point down the road, but for now, I’d suspect that his best case scenario would simply be to stay healthy, log a consistent 15 to 20 minutes or so off the bench and provide a consistent offensive punch in those minutes.

Burks’ limited minutes, games and productivity in recent years have rendered him basically unnecessary to the Jazz, but hopefully he can aim to reverse that this season with an expanded opportunity and improved health.

Worst Case Scenario

Alec Burks’ worst case scenario is pretty cut and dry. Either his trend from recent years continues and he simply can’t stay healthy, or his past injuries have too much of an effect on him and he’s simply unable to return to the form he once exhibited.

In truth, Burks’ worst case scenario season probably wouldn’t look all that different from last year. Although he did play in 42 games last season, he also logged a number of DNPs even when on the active roster and his efficiency was dismal as he shot under 40 percent from the field and under 33 percent from deep for a career-low average of 6.7 points per game.

As disappointing as it would be to see Burks unhealthy yet again, it would almost be even more disappointing to have him feeling well physically but not able to produce, which would essentially result in him riding the bench for the majority of the season.

One would think that he could potentially crack into the bench lineup consistently given the question marks surrounding what Utah’s reserve guard rotation will look like next year, but if his struggles persist, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see Burks turn into an afterthought and a salary that the Jazz try desperately to unload.

Next: Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Jonas Jerebko

As much as I’d like to be optimistic about Burks’ chances to have a bit of a rebound in 2017-18, unfortunately he hasn’t done much to convince me over the course of the past three seasons that he’ll be capable of such a leap. I certainly hope he can finally have his breakout season as the Jazz need his offense now more than ever with Hayward no longer on the team, but I’m not exactly counting on that becoming the reality.