When Trevor Booker pressed his index finger against his lips to silence the crowd at Barclays Center in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 106-101 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, the third-year forward also quieted any concerns about whether this difficult season has caused his confidence to waiver.
“I was feeling myself,” Booker said, explaining his gesture after making a layup that gave the Wizards their last lead of the game.
Booker, who finished with season highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds and tallied just his third double-double, well short of what he anticipated for himself and the Wizards this season. With Nene resting sore right knee and left foot, Booker got his 13th start of the season and played a season-high 33 minutes.
“It felt great. All I need is some minutes, I can show that I can produce,” Booker said. “It was a good opportunity to show what we can do, the players that haven’t been able to play that much. I think for the most part, every body showed up pretty good.”
Booker will finish the season the way he started it, as the starting power forward for the Wizards. And for the first time in his career, Booker has had a chance to play in the month of April, a seemingly minor accomplishment that was denied him his first two seasons because of foot injuries.
But what happened in the middle of the season was both upsetting and confusing for Booker, who assumed that he would have a bigger and more consistent role within the team. He is averaging career lows of 5.2 points and 49 percent shooting, to go along with 4.9 rebounds.
“Yeah, overall, I would say it was pretty frustrating,” Booker said. “I didn’t get the minutes that I would like, but it’s not going to stop me from working and coming back stronger.”
Booker started the first seven games in place of the injured Nene, lost his job, then hurt his knee while rising for a layup on Nov. 19 against the Indiana Pacers. He returned nearly two months later to discover that playing time would be hard to come by — and that he wouldn’t always be a part of the regular rotation as Coach Randy Wittman mixed and matched trying to find a combination that worked.
“Individually, I got injured again, but when I came back, when I got in games, I felt like I did a good job producing. My biggest thing is just staying healthy,” said Booker, who also played a career-low 47 games. “As a team, we started off slow. We had a lot of people injured, but once we got everybody healthy, we showed what we could do and I feel like if we had everybody healthy in the beginning, we would be fighting for maybe a four or five seed.”
The Wizards will likely look to move one of their young big men this offseason, with minutes being scarce for Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely. At times this season, Booker had no idea that he wouldn’t play until the game was over.
Booker plans to spend his offseason in Charlotte in an effort to get stronger and more durable. And with one more game remaining, Booker hopes to offer a reminder that he can still be a valued contributor.
“I’m just going to keep working on my game and preparing for the future,” Booker said, “whether that’s here or with another team.”