The last time the Wizards were in Atlanta, it was Oct. 27 and they were a confused bunch. None was more out of sorts than backup point guard Trey Burke.
A game that was close and could've been a victory turned into a 114-99 loss and got the season started on the wrong foot. When they met the Hawks at Verizon Center the following week, Burke had lost his spot to Tomas Satoranksy and the Wizards would begin 2-8.
While the play of John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the starters has been stellar, Burke has come around as a suitable ballhandler for the second unit which is why they're now 25-20.
"I've talked to him a lot," Wall said. "That's like my little brother. Just trying to help him out in every aspect of the game. Knowing he started off well in Utah then went downhill his last couple of years. Just trying to build his confidence back up. He works out with me. He's a different point guard than I am."
Burke has gone from being unsure of himself and running the offense, so much so that after the opener teammates spoke of not understanding his play-calls at Phillips Arena either because it was too loud or he didn't have a firm grasp of the plays himself .
Now Burke not only is shooting the ball better, he's creating and running the pick-and-roll superbly with Markieff Morris who is beginning the second quarter with the reserves.
Burke shoots 51% in the Wizards' wins. When they lose, he's at 40.5%. In the Wizards' last three games, all wins, he's 9-for-13 shooting with nine assists vs. two turnovers.
Coach Scott Brooks has gone away from his team running so much high pick-and-rolls early in possessions and instead has gotten more motion and off-ball action first. If they don't get a good look out of it, they'll flow into high or side pick-and-rolls run by Wall, Beal or Burke when the defense is more than likely on its heels trying to catch up off their switches.
Burke has flourished finding his own shot that way, and with moving the ball for someone else to get theirs. And in their last two games against their heated rival Boston Celtics, Burke held his own when having to defend Isaiah Thomas.
"He's an aggressive scorer," Wall said. "When his shot is going, that makes him play a lot better."
Burke's season-high of 27 points came on Dec. 27 in a blowout of the low-rung Brooklyn Nets. Easily his best performance could be in the 12 minutes he played against a much better team in the Charlotte Hornets, making all three shots and getting four assists earlier this week.
The biggest difference in Burke comes when he plays at home, where the Wizards have won 14 in a row, compared to on the road. He shoots 51.7% from three at Verizon Center. That dips to 33.3%.
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