If Deonte Burton played on a team with a higher profile, he would almost certainly be considered a first-round lock and maybe even a lottery pick.
Burton spent four seasons at the University of Nevada – Reno, where he proved himself to be a reliable scorer and capable defender. Burton averaged more than 16 points a game at Nevada, posting a career-high average of more than 20 points per game in his senior season. At 6′ 1″ and 193 pounds, Burton is a strong finisher near the rim and he attacks the hoop with unusual aggressiveness. According to Draft Express, Burton ranks in the top-five in most key categories among the site’s Top 100 Point Guards in this year’s draft class, including scoring (4th), 2-point shooting percentage (2nd), trips to the free-throw line (5th), and lowest turnover rate (1st).
The two biggest knocks on Burton are related to his passing abilities and the fact that he played for an underachieving Wolf Pack squad. He averaged less than 4 assists per game during his four years in Reno, which could just as easily be attributed the lack of talent around him as it could his deficiencies as a passer. Scouts are quick to point out that he possesses a score-first mentality, although you could argue that isn’t something that’s necessarily a negative in today’s NBA. Burton also was one of Nevada’s leaders for most of his college career, during which time the team posted losing records three out of four seasons, including his last two years. It’s not fair to pin losses on any single player, but point guards are like quarterbacks in that they often get disproportionate credit for both wins and losses, especially at the college level. He’ll need to prove he can lead a team at the next level, both on the court and in the locker room.
The info flowing out of the Nuggets’ camp over the last few weeks indicate they might look to select a point guard in this year’s draft to compete for minutes as Ty Lawson’s backup. And with two picks in the second round, chances are high that they’ll have an opportunity to select Burton, who’s currently projected to be available between picks 41 and 56 which Denver currently possesses.
The more I learn about Burton, the more confident I become that he’s one of the real hidden gems in this year’s draft. The Nuggets’ situation would be a perfect fit for him, giving him time to learn from Lawson while still competing for meaningful minutes right out of the gate. Assuming the team doesn’t package their second-round selections as part of a bigger draft day move, I’ll be rooting for one of those picks to be spent on bringing Burton Denver.
What do you think, Nuggets fans? Should the team be thinking point guard in this year’s second round and, if so, is Deonte Burton a prospect worth considering? Share your thoughts in the comments below or get at me on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.