John Wall and Trevor Booker had more in common when they joined the Wizards then just being first round selections in 2010.
“Both [of us] couldn’t shoot when we got here,” cracked Wall recently with a rather spot on statement when asked about Booker’s improvement over four seasons.
The power forward received a similar question and delivered a similar response, though without the self-deprecating component.
“When I first got here I remember he couldn’t shoot a lick,” said a smiling Booker during his final interview with the media before heading into the off-season.
Whether he’ll reunite with Wall for a fifth season in Washington is one of the questions the franchise faces this summer. Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Wall, who shot a career-high 35 percent on from 3-point range this seasonm all joined the team during the first round of the 2010 Draft. The two frontcourt players are restricted free agents this summer with Booker the better of the two to return.
The 6-foot-8 forward’s game has been far more about toughness than touch.
“He’s always been a hard worker,” Wall said of Booker. “Since Day 1, he’s always been the one that worked hard, competitive. Nobody is going to back down from nobody, kind of the bruiser on the team. When we need somebody to hit somebody, he’ll do it.”
Among the things Booker showed he was capable of doing this season, stay healthy - and consistently hit mid-range and deep shots.
Though Booker remained a physical presence, he helped the team by knocking down shots when the ball swung his way. During the 2012-13 season, yet another one limited by injuries, Booker went 5 of 17 (29.4 percent) on shots between 10-15 feet and 14 of 37 (37.8) on attempts between 16 feet to the 3-point arc.
This past season, Booker went 21 of 47 (44.7) with those mid-range attempts and 35 of 81 (43.2) on shots between 16 feet and the 3-point line. Overall he set career-highs in games played (72) and field goal percentage (55.1) while averaging 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“I’m a lot better,” Booker said of his current game compared to his first three seasons. “The first few seasons I had a couple of injuries that kept me down. I kept working. This year, for the most part, I stayed healthy. I think I had a pretty productive season.”
Though a reserve most of the regular season, Booker received an opportunity for a rare steady role\ when Nene went down with a knee injury in February. With the big Brazilian out, Booker started all 21 games late in the regular season. The Wizards went 12-9 in that stretch.
Booker went back to the bench for the playoffs, but re-entered the starting lineup when Nene was suspended for Game 4 of the first round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls. His energetic performance – eight points, nine rebounds, and three blocks - helped spark Washington’s victory.
“I think when Nene went down it kind of built [Trevor’s] confidence up knowing that he had an opportunity to play through a couple of mistakes,” Wall said. “I think early on he’d make a mistake or two he knew he was coming out. That gets frustrating. When Nene went down…That built his play, his confidence up on both ends of the court for our team.”
Will Booker be part of next season’s roster is the question.