Former Michigan point guard Trey Burke started his rookie season on the injured list with a broken finger, and he finished it earning his third Western Conference Rookie of the Month Award. The Utah Jazz were a disappointment, finishing 25-57, but Burke was one of the team's highlights, averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Burke was named the Western Conference rookie of the month for April after also earning the honor in both December and January, becoming the first Jazz player to win it in multiple months. He averaged 15.6 points and topped all NBA rookies in assists with nine a game in seven contests during April and will be a candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Former Jazz forward Karl Malone was named NBA Rookie of the Month in December 1985, the only previous monthly rookie honor for the Jazz. The award, which has been given monthly since the 1981-82 season, was originally the NBA Rookie of the Month before splitting into Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month in 2001-02.
Burke ranked second among rookies in minutes, having logged 38.3 per game in April, posted double-digit scoring totals in five of seven April games and handed out seven or more assists six times. He credited the veteran guards and backups on the team for helping him battle through the rigors of a long season.
"When I got in the league you'd always hear guys telling you, 'Look out for those guys behind you or that play that same position,' " Burke told Standard-Examiner. "[Backup guard] John Lucas III has been like a big brother to me. I could talk to him about anything. We competed against each other every day and I'm sure he was frustrated not playing as much as he did in the beginning of the season."
Lucas insisted Burke should be declared the NBA's top newcomer.
"At the beginning of the year, Trey was saying, 'the game's so fast,'" Lucas recalled. "I'm like, 'just take your time, the game's really slow because you can see stuff forming before it happens if you know exactly what you're looking for.' Trey just went from the beginning when everything was push, push, push rushing to now he's slowed down and he lets the game come to him. I think he should be rookie of the year. I feel like he's had that type of year this year."
In New York, Tim Hardaway Jr. averaged 10.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game in his rookie season. The New York Post called him a "steal at No. 24 last year," and they got a scout on record to predict he'd be a good one in New York.
"He's a keeper," said one scout before predicting, "Other teams may try to get him. … He'll be a good fit in the triangle offense]. Coming off the pinch post would be good for him. He'd get shots -- they'd send him to the corner. He's definitely a keeper."
Hardaway shot .428 from the floor, including .363 on three-pointers this year.
"They want him to put points on the board, and that tells you he's a good shooter," the scout told The Post. "If he wasn't, they'd say, 'just go cause disruption on the defensive end,' so he must be a player they count on to score.
"He's an obvious NBA talent. It looks like he could be a good defender, seems like a good teammate. He can shoot but really needs to work on his consistency. He can be lights out one night, out of sync the next."
While he's one-dimensional now, the scout noted, that should change when he becomes more comfortable with his role.
Wolverines in the NBA
Trey Burke (Played at U-M from 2011-13), PG, Utah Jazz: Averaged 12.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in his rookie year, earning Western Conference Rookie of the Month three times … Scored in double figures in his last four games to close the season.
Jamal Crawford (2000), SG, Los Angeles Clippers: The only former Wolverine in the playoffs … Finished the regular season averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game … Scored nine points on only 2-for-11 shooting in a first round, Game One playoff loss to Golden State April 19.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (2010-13), SG, New York Knicks: Averaged 10.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game in his rookie season … Helped lead the Knicks to wins in their last four games, scoring 20, 16 and 18 points in his last three outings … KIA NBA Rookie of the Year nominee.
Darius Morris (2010-11), PG, Free Agent: Spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers (on two, 10-day contracts) and Memphis Grizzlies … Averaged 4.0 points, 1.6 assists and 1.0 rebound in 27 games played, but was released by the Grizzlies at the all-star break in late February.