Alec Burks was one big reason why the CU Buffs basketball team had such a special season -- but he won't be around as the team tries to improve on its semi-finals loss in the NIT tournament last month. Yesterday, he declared for the NBA draft.
But while he's likely to be chosen in the top half of the first round, jumping now remains a mistake.
At a press conference yesterday (it's on view below), Burks said that after the season, he felt sure he would be a "lottery pick," making this year "the perfect time for me to come out."
It's an understandable view, but one we argued against in our post, linked above, about the Buffs' NIT loss to Alabama. After noting that Burks would be under pressure to declare, we wrote:
With luck, however, he'll realize that putting himself on the market during what could very well be a chaotic lockout year isn't ideal -- and besides, he can improve his stock dramatically by pushing CU into the Big Dance for real next season, rather than to the cusp of an invite.
There's also the matter of whether Burks' game is NBA-ready -- a question raised by ESPN analyst Chad Ford. As quoted in this Bleacher Report post, Ford recently said, "In a draft devoid of great shooting guard prospects, Burks offers a bit of a quandary. He has the requisite size and athleticism for the position -- but how interested are you in a shooting guard who can't shoot?"
That's an over-exaggeration. But Ford is right when he says Burks excels at "slicing through defenses and finishing at the basket," not spotting up and firing away from distance. And he needs both skills in order to excel at the professional level. One reason the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose is so effective at getting to the rim is because of the constant danger that he could stop and pop. If teams don't believe Burks can do likewise, he will find the lane more clogged than I-25 at rush hour.
Nonetheless, Burks is likely to go in the early part of the first round, thanks in part to players like Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes choosing to return to school rather than risk bumbling into a lockout scenario. NBADraft.net has him going ninth to Charlotte, while ESPN sees Milwaukee picking him tenth as a tandem-mate for Brandon Jennings -- an intriguing prospect.
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Still, Burks' unfinished game hardly guarantees NBA success. For his sake, we hope he'll land at a franchise that can nourish his prodigious talent rather than discarding him if he doesn't immediately pay huge dividends.
Check out the aforementioned press conference here:
More from our Sports archive: "CU Buffs's Kansas loss lets Jayhawks Nation know that Boulder's on the rise (VIDEO)."