Name: Josh Boone
Birth Date: November 21, 1984 (age 24)
Birth Place: Mount Airy, MD
College: University of Connecticut
Drafted: 2006, 1st round, 23rd overall by New Jersey
Experience: 3 seasons
Contract: $2.05 million in 2009-10
After a promising sophomore campaign where he started 53 games and averaged 8.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field, Josh Boone took a step backwards last year. He was injured earlier in the season and was replaced in the starting lineup with Brook Lopez, who justifiably held on to that spot even after Boone came back from injury. But Boone was never the same player after being jettisoned from the starting five.
Offensively, Boone has always been a one-dimensional player. He can’t shoot jumpers, and has very little post-game to speak of, so Boone generally gets most of his points off pick and rolls, using his strength and quickness to find openings for short-range shots and dunks, with the occasional tip-in mixed in. About 79 percent of Boone’s shots last year were inside shots, good for a 59 effective field goal (eFG) percentage, according to 82games. This was actually an improvement on his eFG on inside shots a year prior when he shot 57 percent. However, Boone’s failure to hit jumpers with any kind of proficiency dragged his overall numbers down. More of his shots attempted were jumpers (21 percent) last year than the year before (14 percent), yet his eFG was lower, 21 percent in 2008-09 compared to 39 percent the year prior. “Most of his mental errors occur when he’s wide open from the midrange and he pulls the trigger,” according to Draft Express. Boone’s assisted to numbers emphasize exactly how much of his offense is derived from the pick and roll. About 75 percent of all of Boone’s close shots and dunks were assisted to.
But Boone may be most nefariously known for his horrid free throw shooting. Even in his positive sophomore season, Boone only shot 46 percent from the free throw line, and that number further dipped to 38 percent last season. The poor free throw shooting, and lack of three-pointers brought down Boone’s True Shooting (TS) percentage to a mediocre 51 percent last year, good for 53rd out of 64 centers who played more than 500 minutes last season, according to ESPN’s John Hollinger.
Boone is good at protecting the ball for his position with a turnover ratio of 9.9, good for 10th among qualifying centers. He’s better than some centers at passing the ball with an assist ratio (percentage of player’s possessions that ends with an assist) of 9.9, good for 33rd out of qualifying centers last season.
His player efficiency rating (PER) of 13.38 is below average for the league, and 45th out of 64 qualifying centers, but it was higher than the newly acquired F/C Tony Battie (11.98), who is probably Boone’s initial challenger for minutes as the back-up center at the start of the season.
When Boone was first scouted at the University of Connecticut, he was known primarily for his strong defense and long arm-span, which would be perfect for grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. Since coming to the NBA, his defense can be best described as “decent,” according to Draft Express. He’s a middle of the pack rebounder for his position, ranking 35th out 64 centers who played more than 500 minutes with a rebounding rate (percentage of missed shots a player rebounds) of 15.4. Comparatively, he’s better on the offense glass, where his offensive rebounding rate of 12.3 was good for 18th among centers.
The Nets were burned by opposing centers when Boone was on the floor last year, which is disconcerting considering he usually played against second string centers. Opposing centers had an eFG of 58 percent last year and a PER of 19.6 when Boone was on the floor, according to 82 games. Boone’s PER per 48 minutes at the center position of 14.9 led to a differential of -4.7 when he was on the court.
One positive aspect of Boone’s defensive game is he’s not a profuse fouler. He average 5.1 fouls per 48 minutes good for 62nd overall out of 93 centers in the league. However, he’s a middle-of-the-road shot blocker, averaging 2.3 blocks per 48 minutes, ahead of such big names like Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilguaskas, but overall ranked 44th out of 91 centers.
Boone seemed like he was on the right track after his second season to at least be a worthwhile role player on the Nets at the center position, but never seemed able to recover once he was bumped from the starting lineup by Brook Lopez. This raises eyebrow when you look back to Boone’s 2006 NBA Draft Scouting Report where Draft Express wrote, “the most concerning thing about Boone has to be his mental approach to the game. Watching him play, following him throughout his career, and speaking to people that have been around him over that time, there are major question marks about just how much he enjoys playing basketball.”
Boone, Tony Battie and possibly Sean Williams, will likely battle it out for minutes backing up Brook Lopez this season. With Battie also able to play some power forward and Sean Williams being his unpredictable self, it’s very likely that Boone could have that role sewn up early in the season. Keep in mind, Boone was brought into the NBA primarily to be a garbage-style player – someone who would dive for loose balls, bang for rebounds and tip back missed shots. During open practice in August, Jarvis Hayes told reporters Boone was surprising many “hitting jumpers,” but given how limited that side of his game has been, Boone’s best chance of becoming a regular in the rotation is to embrace this role of a garbage player who brings defensive energy off the bench.
Here’s Josh Boone talking in happier times, after a career night in 2007.