Warriors coming to realize Alec Burks is dependable scorer this season


MEMPHIS -- Warriors guard Marquese Chriss had a direct distinction for his teammate Alec Burks following a 114-95 win over Memphis Tuesday evening. 

"He's a bucket," the forward admitted. 

For the last month, Burks has been inciting similar reactions from much of the Warriors' battered lockerroom. In the wake, he is averaging career numbers as the Warriors search for continuity in their roster.  

On Tuesday, he continued towards the trend, scoring 17 of his team-high 29 points in the first half, adding eight rebounds in 36 minutes. He got started four minutes into the first quarter, draining a fadeaway over Grizzlies rookie Ja Maront. Seven minutes later, he used an Omari Spellman screen to gain space beyond the arc, before draining a 3-pointer. 

With less than three minutes left in the half, he drove baseline, temporarily lost possession of the ball, before finishing over the outstretched arms of Grizzlies seven-footer Jonas Valanciunas, impressing teammates along the way. 

"I told him at halftime, 'you're nice, bro.' Chriss said. "Some of the stuff he be doing, I just be like 'wow.'" 

Seeds of Burks potential were evident in 2011, when he Utah Jazz selected Burks 12th overall -- a pick after Klay Thompson. In the next five seasons, Burks averaged 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists, later signing a four-year, $42 million with the Jazz in 2014. Along the way, Burks incrementally improved his shooting percentage from 42 percent his rookie year to 45 percent in 2014.

"I definitely knew he could score," Green said. "When he's been on any team, he comes off the bench and he gets it going. Going downhill, getting to the basket and I think he's definitely improved his jump shot. 

However, a series of stress fractures limited Burks to just 100 games from 2014 through 2016, and he has not played at least 75 games in a season since 2013-14. Last year, Burks was traded three times and finished the year with the Kings. In 13 games with Sacramento, he averaged just 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists. 

Following a rollercoaster season, Burks agreed to a deal with the Thunder to join the duo of George and Russell Westbrook in July. After George and Westbrook left town via trades, the Thunder allowed Burks to back out of his deal following the trade, he signed a one-year, veteran's minimum deal with the Warriors. 

Despite missing all of training camp with an ankle injury, Burks has become a dependable scorer for Golden State, averaging 13.5 points through 11 games. Two weeks ago in Houston, he scored 28 points, adding eight rebounds, showing his promise.

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, Burks has become a viable offensive weapon, averaging 14.8 points through 12 games. 

"I don't think he had the same freedom he has now to attack all the time," Chriss said. "So I think it's nice to see him get comfortable and be able to get into a groove."

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Four months ago, Burks came to Golden State to revitalize his career. Now, through the first month of the season, he's done that and much more with the opportunity.  

"He's a great teammate and a great guy to coach," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We're lucky to have him."

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