Wizards fans have an odd infatuation with Trevor Booker. A fan base that used to adamantly defend Gilbert Arenas due to his video game numbers has taken the exact opposite approach with Booker. His numbers are mediocre, his rebounding poor, his impact marginal (how impactful can you be on an 11 win team, really).
For all of Booker’s imperfections, he still manages to be a capable player. You have to do something right to become a fan favorite. Fans adore effort, toughness, and finishing close to the basket. Booker provides all of those in abundance. Of players with over 100 attempts at the rim (131 players), “Cook Book” finishes better than all but 11 of them. He is converting at a better rate than Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, Nene, and especially Kemba Walker (who is the worst in the league at 47%). Not bad company for Mr. Booker.
So the fans can’t get enough of Booker, but how much of him is the right amount? How many minutes per game can a contender afford to have a guy like Trevor out on the court? These are natural questions that one must answer about all promising basketball players. It really boils down to one thing: What is Trevor Booker’s ceiling?
Booker made only 16% of his shots from 16-23 feet last season. He is now hitting 40.5% on far more attempts from that range. Your eyes are not deceiving you; his jump shot is vastly improved. This is a great sign, as an improved jumper comes only with hard work. If his improvement from his rookie year is an indication, we can expect more improvement in the future. Getting that shot up to between 45 and 50 percent would make him a deadly weapon in a pick and pop with John Wall. That would allow Booker to assume an older-Kevin-Garnett-type role on offense. Could you imagine? I’m salivating.
It looks like Booker is turning himself into a good shooter. Unfortunately, it’s harder to turn yourself into a good rebounder. It seems that you either are or you aren’t, and Booker’s vertically challenged body might be the biggest reason he isn’t. Booker is currently 61st in the league in total rebound percentage (TRB%) amongst players who have played at least 30 games. This is a big issue on the current iteration of the Wizards because both Nene (55th in TRB%) and Kevin Seraphin (59th) don’t rebound well, either.
If we’re looking for a comparable player to Booker to determine what his ceiling might be, we need to find someone who can knock down a mid-range jumper, play strong defense, take charges, and finish around the rim. The guy we’re looking for is undoubtedly a young Udonis Haslem. Take a look at their second seasons in the league:
Haslem came into the NBA, vastly improved his jumper, and finished strong at the rim. Sounds a little like Booker, to me. Haslem seems like a low ceiling to aspire to but I would be ecstatic if Booker could follow in Haslem’s footsteps, developing his jumper and becoming a better rebounder. This would make Booker a quality starter or a fantastic role player. If Haslem is the blueprint and the outcome, the Wizards having a starting power forward on their hands. At a time when the entire team is in limbo, a surefire starter would be a huge step in the right direction.