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Alec Burks Shines in New Role with Utah Jazz

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Alec Burks Shines in New Role with Utah Jazz
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Thanks to an increase in playing time, Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks is getting better by the day.

COMMENTARY | While other 2011 lottery picks (e.g. Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard) were playing big minutes, Alec Burks, the Utah Jazz's former No. 12 selection, started his sophomore season riding the pine.

He missed 15 of his team's first 26 games, and when he did check in, he saw just 6.7 minutes per contest.

Since Feb. 1, however, that's all changed.

Due to injuries to Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward and Earl Watson, Burks finally found a place in Coach Corbin's rotation and has collected at least 20 minutes of action in 10 of Utah's last 11 games.

During that span he's averaged 10.7 points, 2.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest. He's also shot 46.7 percent from the field and a sizzling 11 of 21 from 3-point land.

What may be more impressive than those numbers is the fact that Burks has accumulated them while playing out of position. With starting point guard Mo Williams sidelined with a hurt thumb, and the offense lagging a bit with veteran backups Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson running the show, the 6-6 shooting guard has had to learn how to play floor general on the fly. And fortunately for the Jazz, he's doing it well.

On Feb. 25, for instance, when Burks got the majority of the point guard minutes (21:24) against the Boston Celtics, he scored on a clutch, left-handed layup -- in traffic -- to force a 97-97 tie with 19.9 seconds to go. Then, in overtime, Burks' reverse layup cut the Celtics' lead to three with 37.8 seconds remaining.

Also, while playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 13, Burks' aggressiveness drew an intentional push from the usually even-keeled Kevin Durant. The play resulted in Durant's first-ever flagrant foul, and the Jazz went on to beat the frustrated Thunder 109-94.

"I think he's doing a good job attacking," said teammate Jamaal Tinsley of Burks. "He could be one of them guys that can play point and play two but be a scoring point guard. I think he's doing a great job."

But don't take Tinsley's word for it. Check out Burks' plus/minus rating from his past 10 matchups: +57. It's the highest of any other Jazzman, including Paul Millsap (+38), DeMarre Carroll (+38) and Enes Kanter (+24).

"It's always fun to play the game that you love," said Burks. "As long as I'm on the court, that's the position I like."

So what will happen when Mo returns? How will Coach Corbin distribute the minutes?

That's still unclear, but one thing is certain: We shouldn't see anymore DNP-CDs for No. 10.

Jared Bray, a graduate of Brigham Young University's broadcast journalism program, has followed the Utah Jazz since 2008, when he covered the team as a sports correspondent for KBYU-TV's Daily News at Noon.

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