Knicks' Trey Burke significantly improved finishing near the rim

Knicks' Trey Burke significantly improved finishing near the rim


Knicks' Trey Burke significantly improved finishing near the rim

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New York Knicks’ Trey Burke is a former Top 10 pick who finally found stability last season. One reason was his ability to score at the rim.

Burke shot a then career-high 53 percent on these attempts during his one-year campaign with the Washington Wizards. During his three seasons with the Utah Jazz, he missed more than half of his attempts from this zone.

Last season, however, Burke shot 71 percent on attempts near the rim. This ranked in the 93rd percentile among all combo guards in the league. While we wrote about his efficiency on mid-range shots with the Knicks, he’s able to provide a much more versatile arsenal with a high percentage near the basket.

Among those with as many attempts, only four guards had a better field goal percentage. But in this group (LeBron James and Ben Simmons as well as Andre Iguodala and Allen Crabbe) were all at least 6-foot-6. Burke stands at just 6-foot.

Ryan Nguyen wrote about this change in his style in a recent column (via Cleaning The Glass):

“Burke actually changed the way he finishes … Burke veers into the man guarding him. By leaning into the defender’s body to initiate contact, Burke is able to cut off the defender from trying to block his shot. Burke extends the ball and shields it with his body; if the defender tries to block his shot, it likely will result in a foul.”

Not only did he push against his defenders but the guard had significantly more space to use on the court as well because they had a floor-stretching power forward.

His added success at the rim will give him more confidence as well as more possessions to play near the basket. His former head coach Quin Snyder predicted that would free him up for more passing opportunities. To no surprise, his assist percentage was a career-best 36.4 percent last season.

Burke was also able to get to the free-throw line far more often while on the Knicks. Before he arrived in New York, he averaged 1.9 free throw attempts per 36 minutes. Last season, however, that rate jumped to 2.6 per 36.

His total possessions with free throws jumped from 4.8 percent with the Wizards to 7.1 percent with the Knicks, per Synergy Sports. It was an added way to get additional scoring opportunities for the guard.

Last season, he averaged 12.8 drives per 36 while shooting 51.9 percent on these attempts. The previous season, Burke averaged 9.5 drives per 36 and he shot 41.1 percent on those opportunities.

Before he was called up to New York, the Knicks averaged a conference-worst 29.7 drives per game. After his first game with the team last year, they increased that rate to 38.7 drives per game.

Even though he may be known for his three-point shot and mid-range stroke, Burke brings another element with his new ability to finish near the basket. It would be surprising if his success is as strong with a higher volume.

But if he continues to keep it up, Burke has a significant chance to improve his overall scoring ability.

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