By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – When many Detroit Pistons fans think about Utah Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke, the consensus National Player of the Year in the 2012-2013 season, they contemplate what might have been.
Burke, who led the Wolverines to the NCAA national title game in his sophomore season, was still available when Detroit’s turn came to make its first-round selection in the 2013 NBA draft. The Pistons needed a point guard.
Instead, the team – close to what Burke calls his second home of Ann Arbor as well as his hometown of Columbus, Ohio – took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Burke was taken next, by Minnesota, and traded to Utah.
With the Jazz, Burke is averaging 13.6 points and 5.6 assists. By all accounts, he has been impressively solid. Playing a smaller role for the Pistons, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 7.3 points and 0.9 assists.
To many, Burke seemed like a perfect fit for Detroit. Even the point guard himself thought it could work well.
“I wouldn’t say my feelings were hurt,” Burke said. “Obviously it’s a team I could have seen myself playing for just because I played in Michigan, and a lot of people expected them to pick me up at the time, but it’s a business, man. Things happen.
“They went a different direction,” Burke added, “but I feel like where I’m at is the perfect situation for me. We’re growing up a franchise, we’re a young team, and we can only get better from here.”
Enjoying his current team, though, does not mean Burke has forgotten getting passed over by the Pistons – or the other seven teams that took other players instead of him.
“I’m only human,” Burke said. “Obviously it’s going to be in the back of your mind. You’re going to think about it, but at the same time, there’s a balance. You don’t want to go out there and just feel like you’re doing too much. You want to pick and choose your spots to where you can attack and when you need to set your team up. Me, I’m a point guard. I have to be a facilitator as well as a scorer. It’s going to be a balance for me tonight, and it should be fun.”
Burke laughed off the suggestion of viewing Detroit’s snub as extra motivation, an opportunity to show the Pistons what they missed out on. Instead, he just wants to play like himself.
“It’s a business,” Burke said. “I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just going out there to try to prove myself or prove to someone who didn’t draft me, but obviously I always play with a chip on my shoulder, so it’s going to be a game where I’m going to compete at a high level.
“Obviously I’m going to go out there and try to make plays just like any other game for my team,” Burke continued. “I don’t want to go out there and force anything, seem like I’m pressing or anything like that. Just going to go out there and just be myself.”