Philadelphia 76ers: Why can’t Trey Burke get on the court?

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers have used a variety of lineups and players combinations so far in 2019-20, but none as of yet have included Trey Burke. But why?

Trey Burke is one of the more perplexing players in the NBA.

Burke is the type of player who can put up 40 points one night and get waived a few weeks later – infamous in equal parts for his ability to create instant offense off the bench, and inability to play defense.

See what I mean?

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In a lot of ways, Burke is exactly the kind of player the Philadelphia 76ers could use as the leader of their second unit, and a player who is borderline unplayable due to his lack of defensive versatility and effort

But still, why hasn’t Burke at least been given a chance to show what he can do through the first two games of the season?

His lack of inclusion on opening night made sense, as the Sixers opted to use Josh Richardson as their backup point guard for the majority of the evening, but on a road trip to Detroit, the narrative was decidedly different.

In a game without Joel Embiid in the paint, or Matisse Thybulle coming off the bench, Brett Brown opted to rely heavier on his bench for long segments of the game – going so far as to deploy an ‘all bench’ set multiple times during the game to surprisingly effective results.

And yet, despite playing 11 players, Burke was once again a healthy scratch delegated to cheerleading off the bench.

Maybe the team simply opted to slipt up primary ball-handling duties between Richardson, Ben Simmons, and Raul Neto and couldn’t a spot to incorporate Burke into the equation, but it’s not like the Pistons are known for their dominant, dominant backcourt defense.

With a less than defensively dominant duo of Tim Frazier and Derrick Rose soaking up Detroit’s point guard minutes, Burke should have been perfectly suited to utilize his unique brand of three-tier scoring to keep the second unit buzzing.

That didn’t happen, but why?

While Burke has a bit of a reputation for being a ball hog, he’s actually averaged almost two more assists a game when compared to Neto in 160 more games – a notable stat when you consider he also averages twice as many points and twice as many rebounds over his career. Granted, those numbers a slightly inflated since Burke has averaged a little less than 10 minutes a game more over his career, but still, it’s not like one player is day and night better than the other.

Who knows, maybe the Sixers just like Neto better. I mean, they did sign him early in free agency, as opposed to Burke’s late inclusion in the final build-up to training camp, but it just feels odd that one player is consistently receiving opportunities to play despite a lack of production while the other remains trapped in a cycle of DNPS.

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To put it frankly, if you told me the only reason the Elton Brand decided to sign Trey Burke was to make Allen Iverson happy, I wouldn’t protest, as he doesn’t fit what the Philadelphia 76ers like to do at all.