In quite unspectacular fashion, Trevor Booker fell from the good graces of Wizards’ fans and now enters an offseason where his name will seemingly be dangled in every trade rumor. Every fear we once had about Booker came to fruition as he was buried under a deep frontcourt, sidelined for 24 games with a strained right knee, and failed to hone his defensive technique or shooting ability. It’s long been understood in this organization that young players develop only with playing time (as recently as last week during Ernie Grunfeld’s presser), yet Randy Wittman continued to deviate from the norm and refused to give minutes to players who he knew were not ready to contribute.
Booker’s sophomore season was a pleasant surprise among a chaotic, lockout shortened season which involved franchise altering trades and a culmination of frustrations among the Wizards community regarding the development of their expected franchise savior, John Wall. Booker built on his high energy M.O. which garnered acclamation his rookie year by developing a pick and pop game with Wall- knowing it will be the only way he saw extended time on the floor. His relentless motor, his great finishing ability at the rim, and refined shot induced optimism heading into year three.
But it’s never easy for big men prospects in this franchise, right? Booker’s shooting numbers across the board (TS%, EFG%, FG%, FT%) are all career lows per HoopData, the motor he once lived off of began to hurt him on defense as he was overly ambitious going for steals and blocks rather than playing sound, positional defense. He was constantly caught hedging out too far on pick and rolls, recovering late, and showing poor instinct as a help defender.
I won’t go out on the limb saying Booker regressed from a year ago, but he hasn’t inspired much hope going into next season despite vowing to “show what he can do next year.” While he has no value on the trade market as it currently stands, he’s a popular choice as a “throw in” in any trade the front office chooses to make this summer. As the coveted pick and pop forward looms large this offseason, it may do both parties well if they moved on without each other heading into the fall. But, in the event that Trevor Booker does make it through the offseason as a Wizard, he’ll have to stay healthy and improve in virtually all facets of his game. A second contract is at stake for him next year, his performance will be the difference between a multi-year deal, accepting a qualifying offer (should the team extend one out to him), or beginning life as a journeyman in the NBA.