This Year’s Trevor Booker : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14
[Truth About It.net player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 -- For each player on this year's roster of 15, we take a look at what's at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]
Eric Maynor via Conor Dirks; Garrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam Rubin; Glen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. Townsend; Trevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle Weidie; Chris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean Fagan; Martell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas Kuba; Nene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle Weidie; John Wall via Conor Dirks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE.
Trevor Booker has become the new Dominic McGuire. Loved by all hardcore Washington fans for his grit and hustle, but destined for a journeyman career due to his limited talent. If only you could combine Kevin Seraphin’s touch around the basket with Booker’s everything else…
On any other legitimate playoff team Booker would be an energy guy off the bench who gets spot minutes every now and then. A poor man’s Tyler Hansborough. But not in Washington. Here, Booker is the presumptive starting power forward on opening night and for the foreseeable future. Which means the answer to the question, “What’s at stake?” is, quite tragically, “a lot.”
Trevor is a nice player but, let’s be honest, he earned his likely starting spot by default. In fact, he has played the role of “default starting power forward” quite often during his three-year career—he has started 60 of the 163 games he has played as a Wizard. But starting for a dysfunctional rebuilding team is a lot different than starting for a team with sights on the playoffs. The margin for error is much smaller and the leash is much shorter.
The reason Booker’s performance could have a disproportionate impact on the team’s success has less to do with his talent and more to do with the lack thereof in his frontcourt mates. If Booker cannot provide serviceable minutes alongside Nene, then Randy Wittman will be forced to pull the lever on his merry-go-round of starting frontcourt lineups, and that’s a ride you do not want to get stuck on. Once it starts, it never stops.
Stats don’t tell the whole story with Booker. He is more of a hustle guy. His contributions don’t always show up in the box score. He does things like this and this. There is no stat for back-to-back vicious put-back dunks over Kevin Love (but there should be). Instead, I’ll focus on a more important number—both for Trevor and Washington’s front office: $3,420,443. According to Shamsports.com, that’s the qualifying offer amount that Washington would have to give Booker to make him a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season. That’s slightly more than Hansborough commanded in free agency (“Psycho-T” got a two-year, $6.51 million contract from the Raptors with only the first year guaranteed). This means that after this season, the next time you see Trevor Booker at the Verizon Center, there’s a good chance he will be wearing a different uniform.
This fact is likely not lost on Booker. The NBA is first and foremost a business. Booker has a golden contract-year opportunity to nail down the starting power forward spot on a potential playoff team. It will be interesting to see how he responds. One thing that might make his agent’s job easier next summer…
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
This one’s easy. Get a jump shot. It does not have to be pretty, but it needs to go in every once in a while. Last season, Booker shot 22.2 percent on jump shots. That’s one of the reasons John Wall asked Ernie Grunfeld to get him a stretch 4 this offseason. There is no sugarcoating it. Booker is a liability in half-court sets. When he is not dunking off a nice cut or tipping in an offensive rebound, he creates spacing issues because defenders do not even bother covering him on the perimeter, and he does not command any attention when he posts up. Booker is also quite terrible at free throw shooting. His career rate from the line is 61.7 percent; he shot 5-for-11 (44.5%) this preseason.
If Booker could develop a semi-reliable 15-foot baseline jumper, he would be able to clear out the lane for cutters when Nene runs the offense through the high post. Booker would also be able to act as a safety valve for Wall on those out-of-control drives that suck opposing big men into the paint but too often end with Wall settling for a low percentage flip at the rim.
However, the fact is that this has been Booker’s biggest area for improvement for the last three years and he has not made any noticeable progress. To put it bluntly, Booker is exactly the same player today that he was as a rookie. Just like Dominic McGuire. That’s not a good sign for a fourth-year player in a league that craves upside potential.
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