Riding a two-game winning streak, the Detroit Pistons host the visiting Utah Jazz on Friday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
After starting the season 1-14, the Jazz (13-27) have played close to .500 ball since the debut of rookie point guard Trey Burke on Nov. 20. Burke, who led the Michigan Wolverines to the NCAA National Championship game in 2013, is averaging 13.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game in 28 games played this season. He’s a leading candidate for rookie of the year with Philadelphia 76ers’ rookie Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic.
Burke’s return to the Palace marks a controversial night for the Pistons organization. With the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Detroit passed on Burke for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the University of Georgia – a widely unpopular move for a fan base hoping to retain one of its most successful local college players in over a decade.
“It’s a team I could have seen myself playing for,” said Burke of the Pistons. “It’s a business. Things happen but I feel like where I’m at is a perfect situation for me.”
To the credit of Caldwell-Pope (7.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg), he’s a member of Detroit’s starting five and has successfully filled a void in the shooting guard position. Josh Smith (15.6 ppg, 7 rpg), Brandon Jennings (16.6 ppg, 8.5 apg), Andre Drummond (12.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg) and Greg Monroe (14.8 ppg, 9 rpg) round out the starting five for Detroit.
Burke, joins Alec Burks (13.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Richard Jefferson (10.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Derrick Favors (13.8 ppg, 9 rpg) and Marvin Williams (9.2 ppg, 5.1 ppg) in one of the NBA’s most balanced starting fives. Center Enes Kanter also averages 11.4 points per game off the bench and Gordon Hayward – an injured starter – averages 17.1 points per game, making the Jazz the only team in the NBA with six players to average double-digit scoring totals.
Hayward will miss his fourth straight game on Friday with a hip flexor. The Pistons have no injuries to report.
Tip-off at 7:30 ET Follow all of the action live from the Palace on Twitter @MichiganReview and @MReviewSports.