SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The national player of the year is coming to Utah.
The Jazz obtained Trey Burke in a draft night deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who selected the Michigan point guard with the ninth pick in exchange for Utah’s two first-rounders.
Burke was told he’d go as high as second in the draft and he started getting nervous.
“My mind was pretty much everywhere. I was just ready to figure out where I was going to finally end up. Now that I’m at Utah, I’m definitely thrilled for the opportunity,” Burke said.
Burke is a pure pick-and-roll player who was the consensus national player of the year as a sophomore after leading the Wolverines to the national championship game.
“We feel really fortunate,” Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey said. “Trey was one of the few guys we targeted that if he did slip we would start making calls and aggressively move up.”
As part of the deal, the Jazz took UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad at No. 14 and Louisville center and Senegal native Gorgui Dieng at No. 21 for the Timberwolves.
“We thought enough of Trey that we traded two first-round picks for him,” Lindsey said.
The Jazz also traded for big man Rudy Gobert, the 27th overall selection. Utah sent the Denver Nuggets its second-round pick (No. 46, which turned out to be Erick Green) and a “significant amount of cash” for Gobert, a 7-foot-2 center from France.
“Rudy is so unique with his length . but he’s not in it because he’s tall, he’s in it because he competes and we’ll be able to use that to help him develop,” Lindsey said.
The Jazz missed out on the playoffs for the second time in three years last season and have a young core of players that includes Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors that should benefit from the arrival of Burke.
The Jazz have just six players on the roster with guaranteed contracts for 2013-14, none of them point guards.
Burke won the Bob Cousy Award given annually to the nation’s best point guard. He averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists last season when he led the Wolverines to their first Final Four since 1993.
Burke, who is small for an NBA guard at 6-foot-1, is known as a playmaker and often played his best in big games.
“He’s a winner. His height is what it is. He’s shown he can win at all levels and he’s a true competitor,” Utah coach Ty Corbin said.
He took care of the ball with a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while crafting a reputation as one of college basketball’s finest passers but his size may have led to his slide on the draft board.
“I think the type of player that I am, I definitely get motivated by things like that,” Burke said. “Teams passing up on me. Not knowing what to expect at the end of the day. So I definitely think it will motivate me.”
Scouts say Burke is most proficient running the pick-and-roll, a staple of the Jazz offense since the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
“I know I have some really good shooters around me,” Burke said. “I think with the guys that the Jazz already have, we can get up and down the floor as well. But I think I’m going to be a guy that’s going to bring the winning mentality to the team, that can make plays.”
The crowd watching the draft at Energy Solutions Arena stood and cheered when the trade was announced.
In the first draft with Lindsey at the helm, the Jazz made a bold move to fill a need. Lindsey, who was the assistant general manager for the San Antonio Spurs for five seasons before moving to the Jazz last season, brought nearly 70 players into Salt Lake City, including Gobert, for workouts in the weeks before the draft.
Burke, however, was not one of those who made a visit to Utah despite an effort by the Jazz. They did get a chance to interview him at the combine.
“We liked what he had to say, his edge and his care factor. We think he’ll fit our culture really well,” Lindsey said.
Once he arrives, the Jazz hope he makes an immediate impact. Burke expects that will happen.
“My goal is to come in and start right away, get on the court and bring that winning mentality and playmaking ability to this team,” Burke said.
Gobert, on the other hand, may need a period of development before he shows his 7-foot-9 wingspan and rebounding skills in Utah on a regular basis.
“Obviously, he has size and athletic ability but he has a lot to learn about the NBA game and how we play it in the U.S. but he cares about winning, picks up things fast and works extremely hard,” Corbin said.
AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski and Arnie Stapleton contributed.