Trevor Booker Wants To Take Somebody’s Head Off, Every Time | Wizards Blog Truth About

Trevor Booker Wants To Take Somebody’s Head Off, Every Time

Updated: July 20, 2010

[Trevor Booker snatches a pre-game warm-up rebound away from teammate Corsley Edwards.]

What exactly does Trevor Booker do? That’s the question.

Booker’s summer league stats don’t jump off the page. In 28.2 minutes over five games he averaged 8.2 points on 51.6-percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, one block, 0.6 assists and 2.6 turnovers. His best game came in the finale against the New York Knicks when John Wall, JaVale McGee and Raymar Morgan didn’t play — he tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes.

After game three against the Dallas Mavericks, Mike Prada of Bullets Forever wrote, “I’m getting a bit concerned that the Wizards don’t exactly know what to do with Trevor Booker, aka ‘Grown-Ass Man,’ on offense.”

And while it’s not yet time to elevate the levels of concern, it should be curious that Booker was not often able to assert himself when the Wizards had the ball. He had a couple nice dunks. Let’s watch real quick ….

….He seemed adept at pump-faking from the high post/elbow area then driving by bigger, less quick defenders and finishing (he usually went left, preferring his strong hand — but that could be a good thing, lefties can be tough to guard). Otherwise, the big bodied Booker didn’t dazzle with offensive work on the block, unless in a mis-match against a smaller guy. And even at that, he wasn’t completely comfortable in the post with instinctive footwork and showed a slight tendency to settle for fading jumpers.

“Right now he’s going to come in as a role player — play defense, give you hustle, get offensive rebounds, shadow the ball and do those things,” said coach Flip Saunders after the Wizards’ final summer league game.

And what does Booker think of this? “Every team needs [a role player] and they’re a big part of each team, and I’ve very comfortable doing it early,” he said.

On one hand, pick No. 23 in a deep draft seems kind of pricey for a role player. On the other hand, a great role player is invaluable and totally worth the investment, especially with an athlete like Booker. As Dan Steinberg reported in his Washington Post article about the Clemson alum, the San Antonio Spurs told Booker that he ranked first in their athletic calculations coming out of the Chicago combine. And I think the Spurs’ scouting department is one that can be trusted.

One member of the Wizards front office I spoke with said that Booker has the physical tools and physical maturity to be productive early, but also indicated that he could use some more aggressiveness on offense. “If you’re in the NBA and you’re a capable shooter and a shot presents itself, you’ve got to take it,” they said.

In his last interview of the summer league Booker said he would be focusing on his jumper as he continues to train for the upcoming season in Atlanta. At times, his shooting form displayed inconsistent mechanics and his release was slow. Repetition and muscle memory will be key to him improving his jumper.

How Booker’s shooting statistics took a step back from his junior to his senior season at Clemson raises a slight flag. His minutes increased from 30.7 to 30.8 per game, and his possessions used jumped from 12.7 to 13.6 per game (from 18-percent of the team total to 19.4-percent). In that 0.9 extra possession, his field-goal attempts per game increased by one from 10.3 to 11.3.

Now here’s the bad part. Booker’s True Shooting Percentage (which measures 2PT and 3PT FGs in addition to free-throws) dropped from 0.61 to 0.55 and his points-per-shooting-play dropped from 1.07 to 0.97. Overall, Booker’s points-per-possession went from 1.21 to 1.11 and his PER went from 30.7 his junior season to 26.7 his senior.

Worth considering that Booker was likely a focus of opposing defenses with him being responsible for 20.7-percent of the Tigers’ points in 2009-10. But it also seems that Clemson shot less (61.6 FGA/G to 58.7) and scored less (78.3 PPG to 73.4) while Booker shot more, less effectively, and scored 0.10 less points per game (15.3 to 15.2). His free-throw percentage also went from .573 as a sophomore to .707 as a junior and back down to .591 as a senior, something usually unaffected by the opponent.

Booker’s shot can improve with a lot of work (over a couple seasons). But until then, he will have to culminate the little things and make a case for playing time. Defensively speaking, from summer league observations, Booker can’t get lackadasical in hedging out against the ball handler on high pick-and-roll plays where his man is the screener. He must be more technically sound in closing out against perimeter shooters. And he needs to create extra possessions by more aggressively going after offensive rebounds.

These are the things Trevor Booker needs to do. But one area where he’ll continue to excel is setting solid, hard screens. After the Wizards’ fourth summer league game against the New Orleans, I briefly spoke with Booker and asked him about his penchant for doling out physical picks.

What did Coach Saunders tell you just now?

“He told me when Craig made that last shot, I should’ve been guarding him because the 4-man should be guarding the shooters.”

Booker is referring to Craig Brackins who hit a three to put the Hornets up one with 2.2 seconds left.

Offensively, what have you learned about your game in Vegas and the adjustments you need to make going into the season?

“I have more confidence in my shot right now. But if [the defense] comes out hard on my, I can put it on the floor and drive it to the hole.”

I noticed you try to punish guys when you set screens out there … {a big smile comes across his face} … what directed you to make that a key part of your game?

“They’ve been telling us this whole time to just smash somebody on the screens. They’ve been getting on to the bigs about it.”

Who taught you to set a good screen?

“Probably myself.”

Do you study/watch tape of other tough NBA guys to try to do it like them?

“Not really, I just try to take somebody’s head off every time.”

And there you have it. It’s early. Real early. Booker hasn’t stood out just yet, but he clearly has the capability to make his presence felt. He’ll turn 23 in November and will get plenty of chances on a young squad. Question is, will he produce early as the team hopes?

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • None of the above on the poll options? As Flip said in an interview, Booker was thinking too much in summer league. He’s smart, and he was clearly trying to fit a role.

    Once he gets comfortable in the offense, I think he’ll be a pretty good contributor off the bench, shutting down opposing SFs and hustling. I still think the Carl Landry comparison is apt, although TBD whether Booker can be as effective on the offensive end. No doubt he can be a great defensive player.

  • Ben

    I think its somewhat ridiculous to compare Booker’s stats his Junior season and Senior season and act like the only thing that was different about those two Clemson teams. I’m a Duke fan, but the offensive schemes for Clemson were wildly different between the two seasons, and you can hardly blame Booker for that. They had a legitimate 3 point assassin his Jr year in Oglesby who allowed Booker to play a high post position and kick it to the outside man. His Senior year? Not so much. Clemson had to run its entire offense through Booker. I think his role changed so much its hard to compare those two seasons. Look at the growth from Sophomore to Junior years as a better indicator of his ability.

  • I’ve been chewing on this much longer than I probably should. Overall, I think Booker’s stats were solid particularly when compared with the players selected around him in the draft. I went through and looked at the Forwards & Forward/Centers drafted near him – Ed Davis, Patrick Patterson, Larry Sanders, Luke Babbitt, Craig Brackins, Damion James, Quincy Pondexter, Daniel Orton and Lazar Hayward. I left out Kevin Seraphin since his injury kept him out of the Summer League.

    When you average their performances this summer you get:
    MPG – 27.9, PPG – 11.94, FG% – 0.424, 3p% – 0.232, FT% – 0.705, RPG – 4.88, APG – 0.87, SPG – 0.82, BPG – 0.9, TO – 2.2, PF – 3.5 and EFF – + 10.4
    Booker’s FG%, steals per game, blocks per game and personal fouls committed were better than the average. However, his scoring, 3p%, rebounds, assists and turnovers were below the average. His foul shooting was nearly at the average.

    Clearly stats don’t tell the whole story. Offensively, Booker’s touches were limited as four other players on the roster (Wall, McGee, Martin and Hudson) took more shots. At least four of his contemporaries mentioned above were their team’s first or second leading scorer and nearly all took more shots than Booker. My point is that many of these players were asked to play a dramatically different role than Booker.

    The Wizards came into this Summer League with a plan and appeared to stick to that plan. A significant aspect of it was to get individuals prepared for the role that they would potentially play this fall. In this regard the team appeared to be successful.

    There is clearly room for Booker to develop. There were times when he passed up what appeared to be open jumpers for more difficult shots. But, his play also appeared to confirm those things that were written about him both positive and negative. I like that he is comfortable with his role currently, but has a desire to improve and develop beyond that role.

    (If anyone should be concerned it should be Orlando about Daniel Orton, he was horrible.)

  • JP

    Of course, there’s probably a player or two or three picked 24 or higher who will probably outperform Booker.

    On balance though I still like the pick. It kind of depends too what’s meant by “role player”. Are we talking about a guy who’s likely going to be part of the regular rotation, or are we talking about a role player who’s more of a situational player who doesn’t even get off the bench most nights?

    If Booker develops into a rotation player — maybe the 7th guy off the bench most nights, or a vital cog in the second unit — he’ll represent a pretty good value at #23 — even in a deep draft.

    There’s also the question of fit and need here. He does some things that no one else on the team does — so it seems like he could fit right in.

    It’s not entirely fair to Booker, but he reminds me of a bit of a more physically gifted and more muscular version of Dominic McGuire. Even though Booker will have a bit of a growth curve this year, it’s not hard to see how he could fit into the picture for this team over the next few years.

  • willdc

    the guy was drafted too high Damion James is much better

  • MC Fonz

    You guys should really look at past drafts when criticizing the #23 pick. If the #23 pick becomes a solid 7th man, that is a good draft. Seriously, look it up. The best #23 from the past 12 years is Prince. Next best are TOutlaw, WChandler, and DSteve. Not exactly world beaters. I think – again by looking at past drafts – that a #23 who is a contributer for 5 years is a solid pick. Booker could be more than that.

  • jussen

    Perhaps there were reasons other teams were not interested in Booker, and certainly not at this spot in the draft.