Utah Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke will make his NBA debut in Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans at New Orleans Arena.
Burke will come off the bench for the Jazz (1-11), Coach Tyrone Corbin said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround.
“We are going to give him a couple minutes, see how he does, kind of work him back in, start the process,” Corbin said. “He looked good (Tuesday).”
Burke, college basketball’s 2013 consensus Player of the Year after leading Michigan to the NCAA championship game, had been out since having surgery on Oct. 15 to repair his right index finger, which is on his shooting hand. The finger was fractured in a preseason game Oct. 12 against the Clippers.
His first game comes against the team many draft boards had picking him at No. 6 overall in June’s draft. He participated in pre-draft workouts for Pelicans officials, including coach Monty Williams. Burke wound up being selected ninth by the Minnesota Timberwolves, then was traded to Utah.
Playing the Pelicans in his debut “is sort of ironic,” he said. “I really didn’t know what game I was going to come back and play. I didn’t know when I would come back to practice, as well.”
Burke said that on Tuesday he participated in his first full practice since the injury. He began doing some on-court work with the team about a week ago. However, the Jazz has had few true practices because it has played four games in the past six nights.
He will come off the bench Wednesday night. Corbin said he is “extremely excited” to have Burke back. Point guard has been a troubled spot for the Jazz. John Lucas III began the season as the starter but has been replaced in recent games by Alec Burke, a shooting guard. Corbin said Lucas will start against the Pelicans.
Burke’s return, particularly when he works himself into game shape, will give Utah a big lift, Corbin said.
“He can score, for a point guard, he can run the floor and get us the pace that we’re looking for,” he said. “He’s a guy who you can put the ball in his hands, and he can make plays there.
“I think his teammates will feed off him more because now we’re getting back to what we started in training camp with.”
Burke was at Wednesday’s shootaround with his index and middle fingers taped together, but said it posed no problems.
“Because of the tape, it feels like one finger,” he said. “The doctor told me not to baby it.
“It feels normal. I used to shoot with the index finger down. But now, I go back to my old way of shooting with all my fingers. I just think the biggest thing is getting arc on my shot, getting my feet under it and have the confidence.”
Corbin said reserve forward Jeremy Evans, who has been out since injuring his right rotator cuff while dunking in a preseason game against Portland, also will play Wednesday night.
The two players coming back made for a good vibe at shootaround, Corbin said, as lack of depth has hampered this struggle. And, Backup center Andres Biedrins, who has been out with an ankle injury since two days before the season started, is due to return soon, Corbin.