Oh, for those happier days when Utah fans wondered how well a healthy Alec Burks might fit in with a Jazz team that fared better without him last season.
Those happier days were based on Burks’ injury-shortened 2014-15 season, limited to just 27 games before he underwent shoulder surgery. To that point, Utah had gone 9-18 but with Burks recovering and rehabbing the Jazz picked up their pace, finishing at a 29-26 clip.
Having the skilled 6-foot-6 wing player available was looking like one of those “problems” most teams would welcome. Burks seemed to have found a home coming off Utah’s bench, averaging 19.0 points and a team-high 15.4 field-goal attempts on a per-36 minutes basis.
And when coach Quin Snyder did start Burks, he drew genuine praise from no less than OKC All-Star Kevin Durant, who saw the value Burks brought two weeks ago against the Thunder in a three-wing alignment to cope with him and Russell Westbrook. “This was like a playoff type of game because this team, they made adjustments,” Durant said. “They started Alec Burks tonight instead of [Raul] Neto. They made the proper adjustments. They have a really, really good coach and they play hard.”
All that came crashing down Saturday, though, when Burks – who earlier in the game against the L.A. Clippers threw down a highlight-worthy dunk – fell to the floor after being fouled on a shot attempt late in the second quarter. An MRI exam revealed a fractured left fibula that will sideline Burks indefinitely, with estimates of about six weeks. He joins guard Dante Exum and center Rudy Gobert among key Jazz players lost to injuries for some or all of 2015-16.