Philly is his kind of city
Burke feels he’s ‘built for’ environment that awaits him with 76ers
PHILADELPHIA —Trey Burke believes he can be a difference-maker off the bench for the 76ers.
A natural point guard with a scorer’s mentality, Burke’s goal is to back up starter Ben Simmons at the point while also earning some minutes with the first unit because he can play off the ball too.
“Throughout stretches of the game, [Simmons and I] can play together and I can be out there with the starters at times,” said Burke in a conference call Tuesday. “That’s just the competitor in Trey Burke.”
The backup point guard spot figures to come down to Burke and fellow veteran Raul Neto, with the younger Shake Milton also in the mix. Burke might have the inside track going into the mid-September start of training camp.
Signed July 30 to a veterans’ minimum contract worth $2 million as the last likely member of the 15-man roster, Burke makes good decisions with the ball, as evidenced by his 3.24 assist-to-turnover ratio in 58 games with the Knicks and Mavericks last season. A ratio of 2.5 is considered good.
“I take it very seriously,” Burke said. “As a point guard, valuing the ball is something I take serious. I try to keep under control every time I’m on the court.”
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Burke can be a bit streaky with his jumper, which is why his role could change from night to night depending how he’s shooting. While he has averaged at least 10 points per game in five of his six seasons, he’s a 40.8% career shooter who has hit 34% of his 3-pointers. Last year, those numbers increased to 46.3 and 35.6%, respectively.
Burke is good in transition and is capable of creating his own shot, which is why he likes to operate in one-on-one situations. He isn’t afraid to take the game-winning shot, which he has done numerous times — led by a baseline jumper to give the Jazz a victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden — and doesn’t lack confidence.
“I’m a competitor at heart, an offensive threat,” Burke said. “Every time I get a chance to show my skill set, I think I thrive. I plan on doing that in Philadelphia.”
That would be fine with Sixers general manager Elton Brand and head coach Brett Brown.
“Trey’s experience as a ballhandler, matched with his scoring ability, makes him a good fit for our roster,” Brand said.
One area Burke, who will wear No. 23 with Philly, is looking to upgrade is on defense, which is good because Brown really emphasizes that end of the floor. Burke said he’s been watching plenty of tape in an effort to make that happen.
With the Sixers being his third team in the span of a year, he’d also like to find an NBA home. Burke would love if that ends up being in Philadelphia.
“Philly being a team with high expectations this upcoming year, having experienced the playoffs the last two years, played a big part [in coming here],” Burke said. “Philadelphia being a sports city. [With me] having played in New York, with the fans that they have, I feel like I was built for a Philly-type of city.
“I think we have the pieces to fight for a championship. My skill set will be big in Philadelphia and in helping us [win].”
Burke, a lottery pick out of Michigan in 2013, counted Hall of Famer Allen Iverson as a role model and mentor he met early in his career when he played for the Jazz. Joining a club on which Iverson thrived is another benefit of signing here.
“It’s dope, man,” Burke said. “AI played a big role in my love for the game of basketball. I’m sure when I get to see him, he’ll have some advice for me. He always has good advice.
“I’m just ready to get to work.”
The Sixers could use the help.
Point guard Trey Burke has averaged at least 10 points per game in five of his six seasons in the NBA.