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Buffaloes in the NBA: Alec Burks playing his role in Philadelphia

Former Colorado Buffaloes guard earning his keep in the NBA restart

Philadelphia 76ers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A year ago, Alec Burks weighed his options prior to landing with the Golden State Warriors. The 10-year NBA veteran signed a one-year deal to go on a possible playoff run with a top contender, but he never thought that run would come by playing in the Eastern Conference.

Coming off a career-high 16.1 points per game with an expiring contract, the Warriors used Burks as a centerpiece in acquiring future draft stock and shipped him off to the Philadelphia 76ers before February's trade deadline. The city of “Brotherly Love” became unfamiliar territory for Burks as the fifth stop in his career. He made the best of the opportunity, playing in 11 games and averaging 10 points per game for the Sixers before the Covid-19 shut down in March.

What has felt like an eternity to all of us was time of adjustment for Burks. Life in a new city during a pandemic with a new team and the uncertainty of whether the season would pick back up or not could’ve been a detriment to some. For Burks, the extra time was used wisely to prepare for his role with Philadelphia, along with how things may come together in the NBA’s Orlando bubble.

The first three games at Disney’s makeshift location were a transition period for Burks, who scored a combined 21 points in 42 minutes off the bench. However, the rust of being off for five months seems to have been shaken off. Burks has found a groove in the past two games, dropping 22 points on the Orlando Magic and another 20 points against the Portland Trailblazers going 16-of-29 from the field in 51 minutes of work.

“What I’ve tried to do since we’ve been down here is just tap into his scoring ability, and for the most part, we’ve done that by giving him the ball,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “ He’s effectively one of our backup point guards.”

Burks is happy with the role created for him recently saying he was “just trying to thrive in any way” he could with the 76ers, who are currently in the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference Playoff standings. Burks’ role should only expand in the playoffs as Ben Simmons is out for the season with a knee injury. If the 76ers are to advance past the third-seeded Boston Celtics, Burks will play a major role in the upset.

Not currently on a long-term deal, the playoffs will be key for Burks in future contract negotiations with the Sixers. Although, the prospect of Burks having a one-and-done experience in Philadelphia is a possibility as well. The team is currently carrying the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA and that figure is expected to go up with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons all making at least $27 million next season.

Burks is in the moment and only focused on a playoff run with the 76ers. =