What Trey Burke brings to the Knicks

The New York Knicks are reportedly considering calling up Trey Burke from their Westchester G-League affiliate. How would doing so affect the team going forward?

As per Shams Charania, Trey Burke is being held out of a Westchester G-League showcase scheduled to take place this weekend in anticipation of his eventual signing with the New York Knicks. The 25-year old guard is currently averaging 26.6 points per game for New York's minor league affiliate, and as such, many are hoping that he'll fill the scoring void left by second-leading bucket-getter Tim Hardaway Jr., who has been sidelined with a foot injury since late last year. As of late, the Knicks have been floundering on offense, especially from their guards. Frank Ntilikina is a legitimate problem on defense and is consistently progressing offensively, while Jarrett Jack has surprised many with his high (for him) assist numbers, but neither are particularly known for attacking the basket.

With his ferocious approach to scoring, this is the one area where Burke is expected to add an extra dynamic. His efficiency lines with Westchester are pretty eye-popping: .488/.416/.831 through 26 games, but of course this comes with the caveat that, well, it's the G-League. If you compare let's say, Burke's 3-point percentages from the G-League (a blistering near-42%), to his career stats while in the Association (33.7%), you can begin to understand the gulf in the level of talent. You could win the MVP on a G-League team whilst barely making it through a 10-day NBA contract (*cough* Vander Blue *cough*), the disparity in competition is just that massive.

As such, it's hard to say that Trey Burke is the shot in the arm the Knicks so badly need. I don't think his signing will result in the playoff push that so many Knicks fans are clamoring for, but that's not to say he won't be a net positive for the team.

Addition by subtraction is a concept many Knicks fans are familiar with this season and it can be just as readily applied to the Burke situation, after all, signing Trey Burke would have to mean the Knicks front office finally, thankfully, gets rid of Ramon Sessions. As it stands, all 15 roster spots are full, and New York would have to waive someone in order to make room for Burke. More than likely this will be Sessions. His low playing time this season, coupled with meaningless contributions when he did, makes him easily the most expendable person on the Knicks roster. At the very least, Burke has younger legs than the veteran Sessions, making him more suited to our rebuilding timeline if he does turn out to be a quality player. But then again, if Burke offers the team something, anything, than he is easily an upgrade over Sessions.

Despite his stellar play with Westchester, expectations for Burke should be very much tempered at this point. As a third-string point guard (or fouth-string, given Hornacek's proclivity for playing Ron Baker) playing behind Jack and Ntilikina, he won't be asked to do much besides attacking the basket and launching 3's; the two things Burke is best at and what the Knicks are in dire need of the most. As it currently stands, New York ranks dead last in three-pointers attempted per game. The best slasher on the team is the 34-year old Jack, averaging 7.8 drives to the hoop per game. At his age, that's just asking for injury, which would be especially catastrophic on an 8-seed hopeful team already bereft of healthy players. If Burke can alleviate the pressure somewhat from the featured players, then he's done his job.

I don't think anyone is asking Trey Burke to be the guard version of Michael Beasley (who would want Beasley to stop being Beasley anyway?), but rather to play within his clearly-defined role with the team. If he does this, the Knicks could very well strike gold with the G-League phenom.

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