What a year it’s been for new Sixer Alec Burks. Once looked at as a potential bust that had been bouncing around from team to team in the last few years, things finally seem to have clicked for the shooting guard. After a season spent with three different teams, a career year as a member of the lowly Golden State Warriors has quickly turned into an opportunity to play for a big contract as a key piece to a Sixers playoff run.
Acquired alongside Glenn Robinson III in a trade deadline deal with Golden State, Alec Burks wasn’t one of the flashiest names available on the market, but someone that fit a desperate need in Philadelphia. He had shown with his time in the Bay Area a knack for being a knockdown shooter that didn't have to rely on others to help him score. Now that he is around other players that can help him on the offensive side of the ball, things could get a bit easier for him. He isn’t currently a member of the starting lineup, but that could change. If the Sixers are serious about transitioning Al Horford to a bench role once the team gets healthy, the player who should benefit the most is Alec Burks.
The Sixers’ biggest problem is that they don't have anyone besides Joel Embiid that can get the ball and create their own shot on a consistent basis from either mid-range or from deep. Alec Burks was brought in to do just that, and bringing him into the starting lineup would fix one of the biggest problems that makes the offense feel so stagnant. Now, I’m not saying that Burks should come in and be the focal point of an offense, but by giving him the opportunity to go out there and make his own shots, everyone can fill more of their own traditional roles.
Without Horford in the starting lineup, both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can fill up the lane, Tobias Harris can be the catch-and-shoot-or-drive power forward he seems more comfortable being, and Josh Richardson can be the do-it-all guard. By bringing in another shooter, the offense goes back to being a bit more traditional, a move that should be worth exploring.
We all love Shake Milton and what he has brought to the table within the starting lineup due to the influx of injuries, but it seems pretty obvious that he won't be able to keep this level of play up for the rest of the year. Milton should still be a part of the regular season rotation, but he might be fit for a bench role just like other fan favorites Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle.
Unlike his younger teammates, who might be strong in one aspect of their game but lacking in another, Burks has shown this year to be a well-rounded player. His numbers have taken a dip since his move to Philly, but he is still unafraid to shoot and willing to be a helpful defender. Only shooting 29 percent from deep since the trade, there is hope that his shot will gain some consistency once the stars of the team return. In a lineup next to players that defenses have to respect, Burks should find it a bit easier to get shots up, something that he didn't have the luxury of while playing with the Warriors. He hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to do that so far in Philadelphia due to the injury situation, but once things settle down and the stars return, there should be some reason to believe they can have a positive effect on his shooting numbers.
To ask Alec Burks to be anything more than a league-average guard who can space the floor and create his own shots might be asking too much, and that’s fine. The Sixers need that kind of player, as depressing as that sounds based on the outlook before the season. Burks can bring back a sense of normalcy the starting lineup has missed for most of the year, something much-needed for both the fans and the rest of the roster.