This is his last best chance to go No. 1 in the Draft, tonight as the lottery unfolds and Trey Burke plans to be watching on the big screen in the living room of his Columbus, Ohio, home and, as he put it, “hoping one of those teams gets the top pick.”
One of those teams with a pressing need for a point guard.
In what has been a Nerlens Noel–Ben McLemore world for much of the second half of the season in the race for No. 1, Burke is the other possibility, however distant, to crash the party. His decisions have been made with the coveted spot on June 27 in mind, too, and tonight the Michigan product needs the ping-pong balls to bounce just right. He’s a long shot anyway, but this is the shot.
Burke has circled Orlando, which has the greatest chance of landing No. 1, though mathematical probability has traditionally meant very little in the lottery. Detroit, too. And even Phoenix, which may come as news to the organization that a summer ago signed Goran Dragic and used a lottery pick on Kendall Marshall. (Or maybe he knows something that all bets are off with a new GM, Ryan McDonough, hitting town.)
“With the way we played this year, not only myself but how far my team went, I definitely think I have a winning mindset and a winning mentality,” Burke said. “I think I could be the No. 1 pick. If I don’t think that then I won’t be. So I definitely think so.”
He knows his stock went up when Marcus Smart returned to Oklahoma State rather than enter the Draft as the top point-guard prospect, creating a well-timed opening for Burke coming off a sophomore season as national player of the year. Burke weighed the Smart factor as he decided whether to leave Michigan. He factored in the realization that he not only would be the best player at his position in the Class of 2013, he could be the only one good enough for the top 10.
“Definitely,” said Burke, also aware of the concerns at measuring 5-foot-11 ¾ without shoes and 6-foot-1 ¼ with. “I looked at the whole draft and looked at everyone that was coming out. I realized that this isn’t one of the best drafts as far as point guards. I knew that that would help me out as well. Then again, I knew that I still have to continue to work and prove myself to these teams and coaches.”
Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse, Dennis Schroeder from Germany and C.J. McCollum of Lehigh are also likely or possible lottery choices among point guards, though McCollum has been more of a combo guard. That could be it for the position in the first round.