Philadelphia 76ers: Just how high is Trey Burke’s ceiling?

(Photo by Brian Munoz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Munoz/Getty Images) /

Sure, Trey Burke may look a lot like an every man’s Lou Williams, but just how high is his ceiling with the Philadelphia 76ers?

In a weird twist of fate, the Philadelphia 76ers‘ final free agent signing of the summer may be the most deceptively important one to their success: Trey Burke.

Now sure, technically the team signed Raul Neto weeks before Burke’s addition, a move that typically signifies the team being higher on one of their 6-foot-1 reserve guards than the other, but Trey may actually have a higher upside for the Sixers because of his ability to not only get buckets for his teammates but the score coming off the bench.

I mean Burke has already scored 20-plus points 37 times over his career, including four-times where he scored 30-plus and a career-high 42-point outburst back in 2017. Neto, on the other hand, has never scored more than 22 points in a game (his lone 20-plus performance), which isn’t bad per se but is much less impressive.

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But just how high is Burke’s ceiling with the Sixers in 2019-20?

While Burke may share a physical resemblance to arguably the best sixth-man to ever don a red, white, and blue jersey, Lou Williams, but there’s a clear gap between the two players. By the time Williams was 26, his first season away from Philly, he had already been in the league for eight seasons and was coming off a season where he averaged 14.1 points per game. While the duo do share a very similar three-point shooting percentage, with Williams having a slight edge at 34.9 versus Burke’s 34.0, Williams routinely topped the University of Michigan product in minutes, points, and field goals attempted per game.

Obviously, if Burke can transform himself from a late-July signing into even a middle-class man’s Lou Williams it would leave the entirety of the 76ers’ fanbase in absolute disbelief, but even if he can’t raise his game to that probably unrealistic level, he should still be an upgrade over the players replacing T.J. McConnell if he’s given the same minutes.

Though McConnell should rightfully go down as a fan favorite for his consistent effort and commitment to playing the game the right way, he was always kind of a weird fit on the 76ers because of his lack of a consistent outside shot.

Granted, he wasn’t Ben Simmons bad, but McConnell never really took to shooting 3s at the NBA level, as he has never averaged more than 1.1 attempts a game in any of his four first four professional seasons.

Burke, in contrast, will throw the ball up from pretty much anywhere, sometimes to a fault. While he too could use some more work from beyond the arc, Burke is at least willing to put up shots and can take over a game every once in a while when he’s hot.

Really, the only thing not to like about Burke is his size and ineffectiveness on the defensive end of the Court – which just so happens to be why Lou Williams almost always remains in conversations to be traded or traded for.

Burke may not possess the flexibility to shift over to the two and play alongside Simmons as a shooting guard, but neither does Neto, and neither did McConnell for that matter (though the duo did share the court occasionally with Simmons at the four). If Burke can win the backup point guard job outright, or at least earn enough minutes to effectively get into a rhythm, it’s entirely possible he could outperform even peak McConnell and earn a long-term contract with the Sixers moving forward.

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And hey, who knows? If Trey Burke can earn a Lou Williams-esque workload (about 24 minutes a game) he could very well become the Philadelphia 76ers’ first double-digit reserve scorer since Marco Belinelli back in 2018 – a welcomed addition for a team with championship aspirations.