The Philadelphia 76ers still need to upgrade at backup point guard.
At one point, the Philadelphia 76ers leaned heavily on the services of T.J. McConnell. This summer, McConnell walked, which opened up room for an improvement at the backup point guard spot following the submarining of Markelle Fultz‘s Sixers tenure.
So far, Burke and Neto have, for the most part, been solid. Brett Brown has given both a chance to earn minutes, and Burke has the apparent upper hand at the time of this article’s publication. As someone who was on the Burke-wagon coming into the season, it’s as expected. We’ll ignore my later articles, which may or may not have advocated for more Neto minutes.
Short story short, Burke looks to be a real member of the rotation now. Or at least someone Brown leans on when the Philadelphia offense stagnates. In Saturday’s loss to Miami, Burke finished the fourth quarter over the struggling Al Horford — a sign of his perceived value on offense.
In a postseason setting, my gut still has a hankering for Neto, who plays better defense and provides a steadier playmaking hand. The defense swings the pendulum, really. For Philadelphia, though, it’s really a matter of finding a guard who can spruce up a dull offense. That’s Burke’s speciality.
To use Brown’s terminology, Burke is a waterbug scorer — a twitchy, shake-and-bake scorer who can penetrate the defense, hit open 3s, and create shots when the offense stalls. Given Philadelphia’s lack of such players, one might overlook Burke’s faults in favor of his spark-plug qualities.
For the time being, that’s a fine approach. The Sixers should continue to give Burke a steady dose of minutes and live with the results, which have so far been positive. Looking further down the line, however, the postseason is still king. Burke is not someone the Sixers can comfortably use in the postseason. If he’s outperforming Neto, an obvious problem arises.
The Sixers need a reliable backup guard behind Ben Simmons — someone who can help break down defenses and distribute when Simmons (and often Al Horford) ride the pine. Josh Richardson is a fine stopgap, but he’s not Jimmy Butler. He’s not a bonafide primary creator.
Whether at the trade deadline or via free agency, the Sixers should look for more defensively capable offensive springboards. Someone who can effectively ISO and distribute without bleeding points on the other end.
Burke is fine for now, and fans should celebrate his success. He’s not someone the Sixers need carrying heavy crunch-time minutes in May.