Trevor Booker is a fan favorite because he jumps high and tries hard. It’s toughh not to root for a guy who works his butt off and has fun doing it, even if that guy is only mildly effective. That said, effort is a skill (just ask Andray Blatche) and is likely the hardest one to teach. At the very least, Booker has that hardest part out of the way, and that is encouraging. There’s much to improve upon, and to call 2014 a success, this is what we need to see:
A sustained bill of health
Trevor Booker is best known for his inability to stay on the court. If you google search ‘Trevor Booker Injury’, you get more hits than if you google search ‘Gilbert Arenas Injury‘. Let that soak in for a second. As far as the interwebs is concerned, Trevor Booker is a better documented injury than Gilbert Arenas. Mind blown.
Booker has never played over 65 games in a season and only played 48 last year. He went from 25 minutes a game down to 18, and had trouble getting into the flow of the season, much less a game. On a team anchored by Nene in the front court, healthy reserves who can operate in limited minutes are key. If Booker is to prove that he’s an NBA player, he first needs to prove that he can stay on the court.
Oh, Trevor. Please stay on the court.
An improved mid-range jumper
While Booker is a surprisingly explosive leaper and finishes well at the rim, he doesn’t get there very often. Booker spends much of his time floating 16 to 23 feet away from the basket, playing the role of Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett. That role is one that can exist in an effective offense, but only if the jump shooter can knock down 45 plus percent. After an awful mid-range shooting seasons as a rookie (5-31), Booker combined to hit 44 of 112 over the last two seasons. Now, 39% isn’t too shabby if you’re creating those shots yourself, or taking them at the end of the shot clock; but if you’re relying on a two point shot that goes in less than 40% of the time, you’re not going to win very often. If Booker is going to play the role of jump shooting big (it seems like everyone wants to play that role on this team), he needs to drill the shot a lot more often.
Grab some rebounds, Trevor!
Because Booker lacks size, it will be rare that he ever graces the court without Nene or Okafor flanking him. If Okafor is on the court, he can handle the defensive rebounding. If Nene is on the court, however, he needs some help. For all of Nene’s defensive prowess, actually ending a possession with a rebound is his weakness. Bookers 66th ranked TRB% is not going to get it done when coupled with Nene’s 82nd ranked, so Booker must improve. ”Book” has the athleticism and will not often be matched up with the opponent’s best post presence. If he is expected to be the second big man on the court but cannot assist in clearing the glass, that 5-man unit will be in trouble.
I loved Cook Book coming out of college, but it is looking more and more like his career with the Wizards is coming to an end next summer. To convince general manager Ernie Grunfeld that he deserves a place not only in the NBA but on the Wizards, Grunfeld will need to see improvement in the aforementioned areas.