Justin Burrell is coming off a solid, not spectacular freshman season where he averaged 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in heavy minutes in one of the toughest conferences in the country. Playing for a depleted St. Johns squad, Burrell was forced to play big time starter minutes (32 mpg) perhaps more than he was ready for. Even though he is older than his class (He played a 5th year of high school at Bridgton Academy Prep) Burrell looked inexperienced and outmatched fairly often. With that said, however, Burrells potential is unquestionable as he displays the physical gifts of an NBA power forward. Its going to be interesting to see if the experience he gained last season will translate to improved production this season.
As mentioned previously, Burrell is blessed with a strong physique. At 69 and 225 lbs, he uses his strength well - whether it be establishing position in the post or attacking the boards. Additionally, he has shown willingness to run the floor as he appears to be well conditioned and plays with a good amount of energy. Furthermore, he is a good athlete, but not an incredible one.
On the offensive end, Burrell is fairly raw right now, but has shown signs that he can become effective. Currently, the majority of his offensive game is with his back to the basket (32.14% according to Synergy Sports Technology) where he will have to make major improvements if his stock is going to rise. He has a tendency to force up shots when in the painted area playing far too rushed, which contributes to him squandering easy opportunities under the basket. He is also unwilling to pass out of the post to re-establish better position. Other times he seems a bit indecisive almost as if hes thinking about what move to make instead of reacting to what the defense is giving him.
All these factors contribute to his extremely low shooting percentage (42.9 %), along with his poor footwork as well. He has a propensity to make a move and then get stuck, which consequently forces him off balance and often leads to a turnover. Turnovers are another area which he will need to improve, as he commits nearly three a game. This is due in large part to his lack of hand strength in the post and his poor decision making abilities. When hes balanced and plays off of his instincts, he can be very efficient and a definite low post presence.
Despite the low shooting percentage, Burrell displays a nice shooting stroke with range that extends to about 15 feet. To improve that range, Burrell will have to get more arc on his shot, which will inevitably raise his percentages, as its presently rather flat. He has shown a soft touch and if he can consistently knock down mid range shots, his inside game will open up. Additionally, his lack of a pump fake inside contributes to point blank misses and only 3.3 free throw attempts a game. With patience hell be able to draw more fouls and make things easier for himself inside. If he can consistently maintain his balance and play at a pace hes comfortable with, his shooting percentage will increase considerably.
On the defensive end, Burrell has a lot of room to grow. He doesnt have terrible lateral quickness, but he does struggle with versatile bigs who can take him away from the basket. He has a long wingspan and that helps with his ability to contest outside shots, but is not enough when he is in close out situations. His post defense must improve as well. He allows his opponent to get good position on him in the post as he is often found behind his man which makes for easier post entries. The physicality that he has shown on offense is yet to be seen on defense. Hes often the one getting muscled around inside and is not a shot blocker either. He must work harder in the post and make his man catch the ball outside of the paint and away from the block.
Even though Burrell is a project right now, there is definite potential in him. With the physical tools and the ability that he has shown, its clear that he has upside. Its going to be up to him as to how good he can be.