Trevor Booker was another Brooklyn Net with a bigger role in 2016-2017. Previously, Booker carved his NBA niche as a high-energy reserve, providing toughness, rebounding and athleticism for the Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz. He was also a locker room leader – awarded the Utah Jazz Teammate of the Year award in 2015-2016.
Booker averaged career bests in several statistical categories this season. (That’s probably true for almost every Nets player.) He notched career bests in points (10.0), rebounds (8.0), assists (1.9), steals (1.1) and minutes played (1754). Booker started 43 games with Brooklyn after starting only seven in two seasons with Utah.
The Clemson product was second to Archie Goodwin in field goal percentage this season, shooting 51.6% from the field. Here’s how Booker’s shot chart shook out in 2016-2017…
Booker thrived in and around the paint - typical for a high-energy big. Despite being undersized for the 4 spot, Booker still shot respectably at the rim and the surrounding areas. 7.1 of his 10 points per game came from inside the paint
Per Synergy Sports, Booker was rated as “Average,” in the 48th percentile of all players in post-up plays. Much like his predecessor, Thaddeus Young, Booker relies on a lefty hook shot down low. 69 of his 111 post-up possessions involved him turning his right shoulder to resort to the lefty hook. Watch Booker resort to his favorite move below.
Booker’s post-game powers through opponents with strength and angles for an open lefty look. While it may disrupt the flow of the offense, Booker often attempts to exploit smaller mismatches. Below, he uses his strength to manufacture a lefty hook against Giannis Antetokounmpo, deep in the post.
But sometimes, Booker can become a bit overzealous with a mismatch. He immediately calls for the ball, with the Nets’ ball movement halting. Here’s one play where Booker finds a mismatch on Khris Middleton. He works hard to receive the post pass. Eight seconds run off the shot clock for Spencer Dinwiddie to angle the entry pass – which Booker turns over.
As a post player, Booker is best when decisive. Rather than trying to force his own offense off mismatches, he could use a post-up to catalyze secondary ball movement. That could cut down his 18.9 turnover rate in post-up situations. His lefty hook is solid, but he may want to optimize his post-ups – choosing to reset when he can’t find a crevice.
The basket below shows the ideal Trevor Booker post-up play. Catch the ball, one dribble, and a strong take to the rim amidst two defenders.
Pick and Roll
Much like his post-up play, Booker ranked as simply “average” in PNR situations, with Synergy ranking him in the 48th percentile. Booker is a physical screen setter, allowing the ball handler to create separation on his defender. For Kenny Atkinson’s Nets, a team that relies on off and on-ball screens, Booker’s screen setting effectiveness is welcome. A good screen is as effective as a perfectly placed pass. Below, watch Booker set two screens for a Spencer Dinwiddie jumper.
As a scorer, Booker shot 55% from the field as PNR roll man. Just like his post-ups, Booker is best when keeping things simple in pick and roll. Ideally, one dribble and layup is best. He possesses solid quickness and explosiveness as a big man. Watch Booker score an easy two points when running PNR with Randy Foye. Booker knives through Dirk Nowitzki and absorbs slight contact from J.J. Barea.
Booker also showed some nice skills in the pick and pop. He ranked in the 70th percentile, per Synergy, and shot 48.9% when shooting a jumper after a screen. Here, Booker sets the screen for Jeremy Lin, catches the pass and takes the midrange jumper in rhythm.
Booker’s athletic ability —and effort— as a screen-setter makes him an ideal pick and roll partner. Simply being more decisive when to score and when to step back would further improve Booker’s pick and roll efficiency.
Perimeter Threat and Drives
Just looking at Booker’s shot chart indicates his lack of perimeter game. This is the part of the piece where people may mumble, “Fits the system,” “shoots threes,” “needs more shooting.” Booker shot a mere 10 three-point field goals in his first four seasons, then shot his highest total (84) in 2014-2015 with Utah, and shot 78 this past season. He shot 40% from the top of the key, by far his most efficient perimeter shot. Watch below as the Suns’ defense completely sags off of Booker, allowing him to step into his shot. He had time to hail a cab (or request an Uber) before Alex Len came to close out the jumper.
As a pick-and-pop threat, Booker may want to extend his range to capitalize on his success from the top of the key. His shot mechanics are a little wonky – he sticks his right elbow out a bit too much and shoots it from the left side of his body. But if he continues to drain threes from the top of the key consistently (triple rhyme? Yeah, triple rhyme), it would do wonders for his game.
While Booker was not a threat from deep, he did show some improvement shooting from inside the arc. As the season wore on, Booker experimented with a faceup jumper and jab step.
While he may be turning 30 this November, Booker is still adding new wrinkles to his game.
The Nets’ primary offensive set involves the power forward receiving the ball at the top of the key to swing from point guard to power forward to wing player. Booker was often involved in setting up the offense. Sometimes, Booker would shoot a three. Other times, he would take a straight line drive to the rim. Much like his effective plays in the pick and roll, Booker can use his quickness and running back-like strides when funneling to the basket.
Booker took 2.7 drives per game this past season, and shot 48.1% in those situations.
Booker’s effort is his calling card. He led the Nets in offensive rebounding, with 2.0 per game, scoring 1.6 second chance points per game. As a team, the Nets ranked 27th in the league in offensive rebounds, so Booker’s effort was a major boon to the Nets generating more offensive opportunities.
And of course, there’s what I call Trevor Booker turbo mode. Fans and announcers alike noticed and praised his coast-to-coast drives. He shot 57.6% in transition opportunities, with highlights like this…
And with true motor moments like against the Wizards in overtime…
But Booker turned the ball over quite a bit in transition, 18.9% of the time. Overcomplicating and overreaching with defenders nearby would sometimes spell trouble for the veteran…
The biggest takeaway for Booker’s game is his need to keep it simple. He’s best when making quick decisions in the post, in the open floor, or off pick and roll. Going forward, optimizing his possessions could lead to more efficient possessions.
After Rondae Hollis-Jefferson took the helm as the Nets’ starting power forward, Trevor Booker took a role as a reserve. While his efficiency may have suffered (offensive rating went from 106 to 100), the overall effect seemed positive, with Booker ranking as a -12.6 as a starter, but +1.1 as a reserve while also rebounding and making threes at a higher rate.
Booker admitted he was happy in Brooklyn, and had a positive outlook on the Nets’ future. In an interview with Alex Kennedy, Booker saw himself as a leader for the young Nets. At this point in his career, Trevor Booker’s game is well established – further cementing his reputation as a solid, but unspectacular pro. His energy, leadership and effort were a welcome addition for a Brooklyn Nets team that endured much adversity. Booker’s solid play brought some consistency to a tumultuous Brooklyn Nets season.