TBG Player Previews 2016-2017: Trevor Booker

Trevor Booker
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Trevor Booker
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Trevor Booker, power forward

2015-2016: 20.7 MPG, 5.9 PPG, .490 FG%, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 1.0 TOV, 79 G

Who is Trevor Booker?

Trevor Booker is a 6’8 power forward that functions as a more souped-up version of Reggie Evans and he immediately joins the Brooklyn Nets as one of the team’s best defenders. The fearless, undershirt-wearing Booker spent four seasons with the Washington Wizards after being selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. In his heyday, Booker averaged 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in 2011-2012 alongside JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.

After starting 105 games with the Wizards, Booker took his hard-nosed reputation as a defender to the Utah Jazz as a backup to Derrick Favors. Although he’s only started a total of 7 games since 2014, Booker has firmly cemented his place as a solid rotational player in the NBA — now, the only problem is that the Nets will look to him for 25+ minutes a night, a feat he has pulled off just once over the last six-year career.

2015-2016 Recap:

Booker’s role with the Jazz remained unchanged through his two seasons there — 79 games, ~20 minutes per, chipping in 5 or so rebounds to boot — so he’s nothing if not consistent in his given role. Even when Rudy Gobert missed 18 games with a sprained MCL, head coach Quin Snyder opted for rookie Trey Lyles in the starting lineup in lieu of Booker.

He did, however, help anchor a strong Jazz defense from off the bench and his prowess on that end will help his new team immensely. Booker, at times, should be the perfect foil to the jump-shooting, average-rebounding Brook Lopez — but as somebody that shot 61% from the restricted in 2015-2016, he stands to be a better version of Kris Humphries and the aforementioned Evans, both of whom found career-best successes with the Nets.

Without much effort at all, Booker’s impressive leaping ability and quick-to-react help will greatly improve a leaky Nets defense that only ranked better than the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

What Did the Pundits say?

Mike Mazzeo of ESPN:

“He gained a reputation in two seasons with the Jazz for his leadership, toughness and energy off the bench, but his future in Utah became uncertain in part due to the emergence of rookie forward Trey Lyles, who averaged 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.”

Tim Cato, SBNation:

“At 6’8, Booker is much more suited for power forward, where he can occasionally stretch the floor — he hit 12 threes last season and 29 the year before that — but he is generally better around the basket. Booker can finish once he’s there, as evidenced by his near 52 percent career shooting from the field. Booker’s rebounding stands out, and he’s a quality bench player for Brooklyn”

Ananth Pandian, CBS Sports:

“This is an excellent signing by the Nets as Booker provides some toughness and energy off their bench. Last season with the Jazz, Booker averaged 5.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 minutes a game. Not really gaudy numbers but Booker does the little things on the court like setting screens and crashing the boards.”

Trevor Booker

What does Trevor Booker bring to the table?

All at once, Booker’s game is both strangely similar and completely different than that of Thaddeus Young, the Nets’ former power forward. While Young, at times, could step out and hit from mid-range — particularly so from the baseline — he made his living as a crafty scorer in the paint. Booker’s post game isn’t nearly as polished, but he’ll rely on the same angles and fakes to score against bigger defenders as Young did.

In Kenny Atkinson’s high-octane, free-flowing offense, Booker will likely be expected to shoot some three-pointers in 2016-2017, despite hitting just 31% of his career attempts from there. Booker’s season-high in points for the Jazz last season was just 17 and Young’s average was 15, topping out at 29 in a loss against the Dallas Mavericks in December — but what he lacks there, he makes up for it on the boards.

Booker’s defensive rating of 102.1 ranked 28th in the NBA for 2015-2016, ahead of highly-regarded players like Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, and Nerlens Noel. Finally, perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle Booker brings — and yes, I can see you rolling your eyes from here — is his passion. It’s an unidentifiable statistic, but it’s something the Nets have clearly lacked since Kevin Garnett’s departure.

If you watched any preseason action, you’d have seen how downright dismal the Nets were without Booker on the court and Atkinson should lean on the veteran until the rotation works itself out. Booker’s fleet-footed athleticism will hide some of Lopez’s deficiencies as a defender and he’ll surely become a fan favorite before long as well.

The Booker Highlight Reel Theater:


The Bottom Line:

Booker’s career lines aren’t incredibly impressed, but he does the little things right. Without Young around, Booker will likely be asked to step into the biggest role of his career — which is a huge reason why he signed with the Nets in July. Whether his floor is a better Reggie Evans or his ceiling is somewhere in the range of Amir Johnson is yet to be seen, but he’s the best example of that Brooklyn Grit we were promised all summer.

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