An Opening for BurtonTo the dismay of many Kings fans, the front office decided not to bring back Isaiah Thomas for various reasons. General manager Pete D’Alessandro has a different vision for that position, which is why he allowed Thomas to walk even though he averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists last season.
But what exactly is that vision? And does Burton consist of the characteristics D’Alessandro is looking for?
He wants a point guard that is looking to facilitate for his teammates before thinking of scoring and play very good defense in head coach Mike Malone’s defensive system.
Thomas’ overall statistics are solid but the team managed to lose 50 games for the eight consecutive season and that needs to change. Thomas consistently got beat on defense and put his front line in a bad position.
Where Burton Needs to Elevate his GameIf Burton wants to make this roster he will have to focus on becoming a solid defender or he will be cut. Covering him the last three years at Nevada gave me a chance to realize what an overwhelming drive Burton has to make an NBA roster.
Covering the Sacramento Kings the past two seasons has allowed me to see what it takes to make a roster and it takes more than God-given talent everyone talks about. Burton has that talent but he'll have to accept a role that may be 13th or 14th in the rotation, which means not playing at all for a vast majority of the season.
He was the “man” at Nevada but will have to become a consummate professional and accept a lesser role in Sacramento and that’s very difficult for some star players coming out of college.
Last season Ray McCallum was in a very similar situation and did everything right in order to stay on the team. He was a McDonald's All-American but chose to play for his father at the University of Detroit over power house programs like Duke.
But he worked hard even after he was sent to the D-League in Reno many times. Sometimes these young men take it the wrong way and feel they're being demoted but that's not the case because they are sent to an affiliate to get playing time and improve.
I don’t believe Burton will have a problem playing for the Bighorns for much of the season but if he accepts the challenge, he will be given a chance to make an impact for the Kings just as McCallum did towards the end of the year after Thomas went down with an injury.
Accepting his role and building on itAs much as I want Burton to make an impact right off the bat he won’t because he’s behind two point guards on the roster, Darren Collison, who recently signed to be the starter, and McCallum, who is coming off a great summer league, being named the MVP.
Burton played six games for the Washington Wizards during Summer League and was never able to really display his game, averaging just under two points and two rebounds and one assist in 16.7 minutes a game — all while shooting a horrific 15.8 percent from the field. Yes, 15.8 percent. That's not a typo, ladies and gentlemen!
Burton will have to have a short memory. He'll need to use his athleticism on defense and try to involve his teammates in practice in order to impress the front office even more than he did during the pre-draft workouts, which is how he landed this non-guaranteed contract.
I believe with Burton's drive, determination and God-given talent, he finds a way to make the team.
Leo Beas can be reached via Twitter.