This year’s Player of the Year race is not wide-open. It’s Trey Burke.
Mike Rothstein of ESPN.com released his latest installment of the Player of the Year straw poll, and once again, Michigan point guard Trey Burke sits at the top.
He received 30 first-place votes and was named on 49 of the 64 ballots, which was the most out of anyone.
But here’s where I get confused: what are those other 15 people thinking? Because as of today -- and with all due respect to Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott and Kelly Olynyk -- I do not think that this vote is really all that close.
Trey Burke is the National Player of the Year.
Let’s start with the ‘eye test’. Burke is averaging 19.1 points, 6.9 assists and just 1.9 turnovers with shooting splits of 49.2/38.4/79.4 for a top ten team. He’s doing so as the primary ball-handler and playmaker on a team chock-full of jump-shooters and big men who can’t do much more than roll after setting a screen and crash the offensive glass. He’s the leader on a team that is just as young as Kentucky’s national title-winning squad was last season.
That’s impressive, right?
Now consider this: his offensive rating (127.6) leads the country, according to Kenpom.com, for players that use at least 28% of their team’s possessions (he’s at 28.6%) while they’re on the floor. Burke is on the floor for more than 35 minutes per game. His numbers are, essentially, on par with what Jordan Taylor did in 2011 -- Taylor had a 127.6 offensive rating while using 27.4% of the Badgers possession while logging similar minutes for a team that had more veterans but wasn’t as good as this year’s Michigan team -- a season that was lauded as the second-best in the efficiency era.
I know, Kelly Olynyk and Doug McDermott have been almost as efficient as Burke while using just as many possessions and playing just as many minutes. But Olynyk is a 7-footer playing in the WCC, not a 6-footer playing in the Big Ten. And McDermott recently watched was his Creighton struggled through six losses in 11 games, which was nearly enough to drop them from the top 15 to the bubble.
Oh, and I know the stat-guys hate bringing up “clutchness” or “late-game execution”, but Burke has been the guy making the plays for Michigan down the stretch all season long. At the end of the day, winning games is what matters, and Burke has ensured that the Wolverines have won some games they may not have deserved to win.
Trey Burke is the most valuable player in the country playing on a top ten team that can win a share of the Big Ten regular season title on Sunday, and he just so happens to be having a historically significant season in terms of efficiency.
Why is there a debate again?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.