Alec Burks: 'Future is bright for Utah Jazz'

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Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks took part of the launch of the NBA FIT Week campaign in Manila on Wednesday (July 29 PHT).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It looked like the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star break was all the Utah Jazz needed to get it together.

After going into the break with a paltry 19-34 record, the Jazz suddenly came alive during the second half of the 2014-15 season and went on an 11-2 run that came out of nowhere.

Had the Jazz kept that pace during the entire season, they would have been able to clinch a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference.

The Jazz finished the season 11th in the West with a 38-44 slate.

The sudden spurt coincided with the trade of now-Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, and the rise of the ridiculously long Rudy Gobert.

From a defensive rating of 106.1 — good enough for 27th in a league with 30 teams — the Jazz jumped to a rating of 94.8, good for 1st in the entire league after the break.

Bittersweet

Unfortunately, Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks missed out on the party.

A shoulder injury forced Burks to shut down his season early after only playing 27 games. He averaged 13.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.

In an interview with Filipino journalists during the NBA FIT Week campaign in Manila, Burks said that he was nevertheless pleased for his teammates’ success.

“It’s bittersweet, you know, it’s my teammates and you want the best for them,” said Burks. “But, you know, I wish I was out there playing with them.”

Raring for a return

After going under the knife in December to repair his shoulder, Burks said that he is ready to get back on the court, and is also determined to help the Jazz build on last season's strong finish.

“Man, I think it’s at 100%. I just got cleared probably like a couple of weeks ago,” said Burks. “We’re gonna build on our second half of the season’s success, I just can’t wait to, you know, get back to start training camp.”

Youth movement

The Utah Jazz were one of the most inactive teams in the league during the free agency period, having only made moves to re-sign Australian guard Joe Ingles, and sign Brazilian guard Raul Neto and German center Tiebor Pleiss.

According to Burks, the Jazz’ offseason activity is a testament of his team’s commitment to the youth movement.

“I think the management and coaching staff want to improve within,” said the 24-year-old guard. “We got a lot of young players that’s improving each day.”

The Jazz are one of the youngest teams in the entire league. Dante Exum (20) runs the back court with Burks (24), swingman Gordon Hayward (25) and big-man Derrick Favors (24) fill up the forward spots, and the up and coming Rudy Gobert (23) mans the middle.

Despite playing in a loaded Western Conference, Burks believes that the Jazz’ success with a young roster, post All-Star break, is a sign for good things to come.

“Everybody knows that the West is competitive,” said Burks.

“The way we finished off the second half of the season — it just shows that the future is bright.”