The Reemergence of Trevor Booker
Washington power forward Trevor Booker has, surprisingly, become a divisive figure in some parts of the Wiz online community. His pedestrian offensive numbers and limited offensive skills has caused many to question his ability.
Physical and humble players are usually beloved by fan bases, and “Cook Book” definitely still has his admirers. (I am guilty of being one.) Booker always goes hard, gives good effort, and displays competitive toughness on the court. He has avoided trouble, rarely calls attention to himself and his dry sense of humor online is amusing. Criticism of the fourth-year player had usually been reserved for his inability to stay healthy and streaky jump shot.
When Nene went down with a knee injury, Booker was inserted into the starting line up. Washington went a solid 12-9 without the Brazilian. However, the multiple bad losses in those 21 games—including defeats to Kings, Nuggets, Blazers forced many to look for answers and possible changes to the rotation. Booker was the only true candidate among the starters for a potential demotion. Then, when Drew Gooden started his outstanding run, calls for “Drizzle” to replace Booker became louder.
(I was a guest on the Wizards Xtra online radio show and this Booker/Gooden topic came up. My stance was to keep the status quo due to chemistry reasons and Gooden’s role as a scorer was more beneficial on the second unit.)
But Washington’s continued hovering around the .500 mark is less about flaws in the former Clemson standout’s game and has more to do with flashes of immaturity in Bradley Beal, John Wall choking on late clutch free throws, and the team having off nights from 3-point range. Booker’s detractors do have merit in their arguments, as he has a minus-2.1 plus/minus on the season and ESPN’s new Real Plus/Minus statistic gives him low marks. Although this advanced data set from the boxscore geeks, paints a prettier picture of his on-court production: Booker is ranked 11th among NBA power forwards in WP48 (Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes).
With Nene now back in limited minutes, and looking able, it is a matter of time before Booker’s minutes likely disappear. But should they?
Over the past week, Booker is making a late season case that he should be involved somehow in Washington’s post season plan.
Even Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis has noticed the “positive emergence of aggressive play by Trevor Booker.” Booker has scored in double figures in each of the past three games (averaging 13.67 points per game), shooting 55 percent from the field (12-for-22) and has been perfect from the free throw line (9-for-9).
During last Wednesday’s disappointing loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, Booker’s first-half offense kept Washington from being blown out. Coach Wittman acknowledged Booker was the only Wizards who gave any effort in that opening half. John Wall questioned about why Booker did not play at all in the fourth quarter. Via Michael Lee of the Washington Post: “I think Book, the reason we stayed close into the game, he had a heck of a first half,” John Wall said. “I felt like he could’ve played a little bit more down the stretch the way he was competing.”
After the Wizards victory over the Bucks on Saturday night, I asked Trevor what has been the difference for him lately.
“Being more aggressive,” Booker said. “If I have an open shot, I take it. Sometimes… I usually am a little passive, but these last few games, I am trying to be more aggressive, attacking and taking what they give me.”
He credited good practices and his teammates’ encouragement for his recent offensive emergence:
“They helped me out. We had a couple of days off. We had two practices on those days. They seen the way how I was scoring the ball in practice. They told me ‘just do it in the game.’ My confidence was a little low before that, but those two practices helped me out a lot. My teammates helped me out in boosting my confidence.”
Booker swatted five shots away on Charlotte but it was this block late in the Magic game that I wanted to know about.
Booker landed on the Wizards bench and appeared that Assistant Coach, Don Newman took the brunt of his fall.
“I almost took his other leg out,” said Booker on his near brush with Coach Newman. “I was just happy that I didn’t touch him because I could have hurt him even more.”
Kevin Seraphin enjoyed this play very much.
Seraphin and Booker are close friends. With KSLife’s addiction to social media, Booker is often recorded and shared by Kevin. Here is Kevin pretending to be a fan of Booker’s and Trevor’s hilarious response.
Cook Book and KSLife also decided to cruise around the streets of D.C. and sing love songs after the Wizards win in Orlando.
“Get it Book” is exactly what Trevor has been doing on the court and quite possibly reversing some of the negative stigma swirling around him from the corners of #WizardsTwitter. His jump shot has newfound consistency, the post moves are smoother, and he still sets the best screens on the team. Coach Wittman constantly harps that his main concern is how his team is playing at a certain moment. With the playoffs looming this weekend, does this aggressive and confident Booker get his post season shot? Or does Wittman give Booker’s minutes to the more experienced, Nene, Al Harrington and Gooden? The opponent and matchups will play a large factor in determining how this shakes out. If Booker keeps up this high level over the final two contests, he might just have made Wittman’s decision for him.
Video: Booker Interview