Trevor Booker and John Wall came into the league together in 2010 and while the two were separated by just 22 picks on the NBA Draft board, the gulf between their respective skills and expectations was much wider.
The two still remained in lockstep during their fourth seasons with the Washington Wizards. In his first 82-game season, Wall attained All-Star status, while Booker shook off his recent health woes and made a name for himself by serving as a more than capable fill-in when a knee injury sidelined Nene for 22 games.
Booker’s increased value won’t come close to the max contract that Wall signed last summer but the Wizards forward is expected to garner the attention of several teams when he enters the market as a restricted free agent this summer. Here are three numbers to remember from Booker’s notable 2013-14 season:
Games started by Booker. Under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, restricted free agents who start more than half the season will have a higher qualifying offer on the market, which gives the Wizards a little more to think about in pursuing Booker. The forward made a strong case as a valuable piece on the Wizards, bringing aggressive play to the paint, especially on the offensive glass, and displaying an improved yet still evolving touch from midrange. After being benched for eight of the first 14 contests of the season, Booker filled in for Nene and put together his best offensive stretch of the year, averaging 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in four games. Booker’s next lengthy stint as a starter came in late February, when Nene went down again, which bring us to our next number…
Net rating for the Wizards when Booker was on the floor during the month of April. By that point, Booker’s confidence was admittedly very high. With Nene easing his way back into the lineup, Booker knew he could still play through mistakes without worrying about being yanked, and the Clemson alum had found his role as the Wizards’ bruising, scrappy power forward on both ends. After scoring 20 points in Washington’s season-ending win against Boston, Booker turned up his play even more against Chicago. He tapped back rebounds for second-chance opportunities, twice blocked three shots in a game, helped neutralize Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer on defense and again stepped up as a starter when Nene was suspended for Game 3.
Times that Booker grabbed at least 10 rebounds in a game. At 6-foot-8, Booker is an undersized power forward, but as a 235-pounder willing to bang inside and with an inconsistent jumper, he’s no small forward. Booker’s tweener status can play both for and against him. Because he lacks the midrange ability to stretch the floor like Nene, it’s hard to envision him as a regular starter. But his athleticism, frame and relative quickness make him a nuisance on defense for opponents and a stalwart on the boards. His 5.3 rebounds per game from this past season are low among power forwards, but Booker showed how his value and impact goes beyond the stat sheet in many ways.
More Wizards’ By the Numbers