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Marquette Year in Review: Deonte Burton

(USA Today)

(USA Today)

We apologize for these player reviews being so late into the offseason — Marquette played its last game nearly two months ago — but that pesky thing called the real world got in the way. That, and the coaching chance made us put these bad boys on the back burner. We’ll try and give you some good information while also linking back to the stellar work Anonymous Eagle did on its respective player reviews. We’ll have a dab of Synergy, a touch of KenPom and our own eye-test analysis to break down exactly what each player did well, where he struggled and how he can improve for next season. For the seniors, that final part will be replaced with where he’s headed post-Marquette.

Deonte Burton, 6-foot-4, SF

We can trace it back to July the first time we brought about the nickname “#BANE” to describe Marquette’s most intriguing freshman, the young forward built like a Division I defensive end ranked in the top-50 by most reputable recruiting services. At 230 pounds, the chiseled forward had bullied his way through Milwaukee high school basketball to a first-team All-State selection. He entered Marquette as a bit of an unknown because he played more like a power forward in high school, but didn’t necessarily have the jump shot to play the perimeter. The #BANE nickname should stick — we hope — as he said he likes it and he certainly plays like a man hell-bent on being each team’s reckoning. And we hope Burton sticks around, too, because the sky’s the limit for arguably Marquette’s most talented player.

Thirty-one percent. That was Burton’s usage rate in the 402 minutes he played as a freshman. For a Marquette offense that struggled mightily the majority of the season, having a player who was willing to initiate offense on his own was both a blessing and a curse. There were times Burton was the best player on the court on either team, and at other times his freshman immaturity reared its ugly head; but either way he was acting, doing something for a Marquette offense that had its worst efficiency numbers in nine seasons.

But consider that 31 percent usage rate. It was the second highest mark for ANY Marquette player the last five seasons, falling short to only Lazar Hayward’s senior season (31.6 percent). His 18.1 field goal attempts per 40 minutes were nearly four more than Davante Gardner (14.2) attempted per 40 minutes and more than even Darius Johnson-Odom attempted his senior season (16.8 per 40 minutes). He committed 28 turnovers, too many for a freshman role player, but looking to make plays happen rather than sitting around an offense that rarely did so was a break of fresh air.

[MORE: The mystery of Marquette’s Deonte Burton]

Remarkably, even with such a high usage rate he shot 48 percent from the field, third best on the team behind centers Gardner (53 percent) and Chris Otule (59 percent). Those numbers, and those numbers alone, should have warranted Burton more minutes than the 12.6 he averaged per game as a freshman.

Prior to the season Burton said his best attribute was his midrange game, but as the numbers show he likely was selling short his ability to get the basket. In 32 games he made better than 67 percent of his shots at the basket, third best behind Todd Mayo (72.5) and Gardner (69.5 percent). Burton got to the rim a number of ways: driving to the basket with a lefty cradle that looked like a miniature version of Julius Randle, cuts to the basket in between defenses and a knack for finding the right position on offensive rebounds (his 9.5 percent offensive rebound rate was identical to Davante Gardner’s). His jumper left a bit to be desired, but he shot 31.6 percent on those shots, a below-average mark but not low enough to kill an offense; he also drew 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes, similar to the 5.6 Mayo drew, for reference. His athleticism was on full display throughout the year, and his dunk against Samford was one of the best in the country.

Defensively Burton was a mixed bag. On one hand, he was the only player in the country who finished with a steal percentage greater than 5 percent and a block percentage greater than 4 percent. Though he didn’t technically qualify for those number, having only played 30 percent of available minutes, it’s nonetheless impressive to be the only player in the country to accomplish a statistical feat.

[MORE: Deonte Burton breaking out of his freshman shell]

Then again, Burton committed 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes and was second-to-last on Marquette in points-per-possession-against (Todd Mayo was worst), a sometimes misleading statistic but one that portrayed the limitations Burton faced. Hell, even Buzz Williams said that Burton’s defense was a liability late in Marquette’s Big East loss to Xavier in which Burton scored a career-high 23 points, so it’s an area he’ll need to work on.

Burton told Paint Touches at Steve Wojciechowski’s press conference that his final four games of the year weren’t anything special, that “shots were just going in.” But we’ll chalk that up to the simple humility of a 19-year-old kid being praised for his efforts. In those four games, Burton averaged 14 points on 54 percent shooting and got to the free throw line 18 times, one fewer than his freebie attempts the 13 games before that.

[ANONYMOUS EAGLE: Deonte Burton player review]

Something clicked for #BANE, the über-talented forward who came into his own down the stretch, feeling out his role and playing within the offense, allowing him more isolation attempts as well as more assisted baskets. No player was as impressive as Burton, and that kind of confidence can go a long way for a kid entering a sophomore season in which he’ll be called upon to play a substantially bigger role. It’s hard to project what Wojciechowski will do with the roster, but he’d be hard-pressed to find a reason why Burton shouldn’t be in the starting lineup and/or play a lion’s share of the minutes at small forward.

There’s no real sense in handing out grades in these reviews, as the numbers and analysis should let you decide. But it goes without grading that Burton showed real promise in his first season. The freshman class inexplicably sat more than it should have, and Burton was at the forefront of such mystery. He’ll get the chance as a sophomore to show what he’s all about, and if he cuts down on his turnovers and plays better team defense, there’s a chance the Golden Eagles’ best player wears No. 30 next season.

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Categories: Analysis, Player Review

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