Earlier this week, USA Basketball made official the names of the 13 NBA players who will comprise the 2014 USA Men’s Select Team. The group will train with and scrimmage against the Senior National Team as they prepare for next month’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain. Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke was one of the players named and his participation could play a huge role in boosting his confidence and developing his game.
Despite showing an improved defensive effort during the Las Vegas Summer League (he was challenged personally by Jazz coach Quin Snyder to do so), Burke’s shooting woes from last summer continued. He shot a paltry 14 percent from distance and connected on just 30 percent of his field goal attempts overall.
He and No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum also struggled to find a rhythm together at times. Coming into his rookie season, Burke wasn’t lacking for confidence and he said all the right things in the wake of his team drafting another point-man with their top pick, but you have to wonder about his state of mind given the selection and how the two performed together on the court.
A chance to share the court and work closely with the best players in the country under the tutelage of coaches like Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Tom Thibodeau could be a boon for Burke and the Jazz. Fellow Jazz players Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors both benefited from their involvement in the program in past summers. Now Burke will look to do the same.
The Jazz will no doubt look for Burke to be a positive influence on Exum as the two continue to develop their on-court chemistry. They’re probably counting on him to be one of their vocal leaders in the coming year as well. Participating with the national team could give Burke more credibility with the other players and, perhaps more importantly, build confidence in himself.
His summer league struggles may be overblown. It’s not exactly an environment conducive to his skill set, and summer league success doesn’t necessarily equate to NBA stardom. But the fact remains that this is an important offseason for Burke and a chance to play with Team USA is a big deal for him.
If his demeanor thus far has been any indication, Burke is ready and willing to rise to the occasion for both for the Jazz and USA Basketball.