Earlier this week, Andy Larsen did a terrific piece on this very site about the different reasons behind Utah’s signing of veteran forward Trevor Booker. In that article, Larsen pointed out the level of energy and toughness that Booker brings to the court on a game-by-game basis. While he did bring up some other aspects of his overall game, the main focus was centered around the fact that Booker would add a unique element to the team’s front-court.
As we examine the overall landscape of Utah’s front-court, it becomes extremely hazy after you look away from the likes of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. While the progression of Rudy Gobert is still going to be one of the big focuses for Utah in the upcoming season, without Booker, the Jazz potentially faced a large hole in their front-court. Despite the fact that the addition of Booker probably won’t be a game-changing move for the team, he helps fills a void in Utah’s front-count.
While Booker does help give Utah some additional depth, the forward also helps bring a certain level of toughness and tenacity that was absent from the team during the prior season. As he stands as a 6’7 power forward, Booker fits perfectly into that label as “undersized” for his position. To counteract that natural weakness, Booker acts as one of the more energetic and ferocious players in the game. That ferocity is clearly apparent when the forward is boxing out the opposition on the offensive glass. Per 36 minutes, the 6’7 Booker pulled down 3.5 offensive boards, which would have put fourth on the Jazz behind Gobert, Kanter and Jeremy Evans.
Even though his slight length puts him at a disadvantage against the majority of front-court options, Booker is able to combine the previously mentioned energy and effort with an extremely large, muscular frame. He’s regularly able to overpower the opposition when he’s working inside the paint. While that strength allows him to collect offensive boards, the veteran forward has also been able to become a relatively solid low-post option.
Apparent from the above video, Booker is extremely comfortable when he’s working inside the low-post. While that strength is a huge part of his success, Booker possesses pretty solid footwork which allows him to maneuver his way past the opponent to get an easier look at the rim. With that in mind, Booker does maintain a solid right-handed hook shot which he uses on a regular basis. That solid combination of footwork and low-post moves allowed Booker to average .9 PPP (Points Per Possession), which is a great indication of how efficient he can be.
While not as important in his offensive arsenal as his work in the low-post, Trevor Booker has developed an under-the-radar mid-range jumper. While he tends to stay away from the perimeter with his jumpers, Booker is pretty effective when he’s working around the free throw line to the key. For example, Booker shot around 46% from 8-16 feet and 40% from 16-23. While you might not consider those to be earth-shattering numbers, those percentages would have made Booker one of the best mid-range shooters on the Jazz last season.
Transitioning over to his work on the defensive end, it’s pretty difficult to judge Booker’s overall work for a variety of reasons. An example of one of those challenges pertains to the fact that Booker has to regularly defend front-court players that have a significant height advantage over him. While he does have the ability to counteract that because of his large frame, Booker still has moments where he’s overpowered by bigger opponents.
With that in mind, Booker is able to hold his own in the low-post for the majority of the time, showcasing himself as a patient and technically sound defender.
The aforementioned positives should showcase why Booker is a terrific fit for the future of the Jazz. While he’s only signed to a two-year, $10 million dollar deal, it basically boils down to a one year deal since the 2nd season is not guaranteed.
While his deal is favorable to the future of the Jazz, Booker should do a lot to help out Utah’s young 2nd unit. One of the main reasons for that is because the 6’7 forward is probably one of the more underrated pick-and-roll screeners in the league. That single ability should do a lot to help out the likes of Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Dante Exum, who are players that will probably be seeing a lot of time in Utah’s 2nd unit alongside Booker.
Even though Booker will probably be projected as Utah’s third front-court option, the total package that he brings to the court should pay immediate dividends for the Jazz. In the short-term, he’ll be able to add some much needed depth to their front-court, while being a solid compliment to Utah’s slew of young talent. Meanwhile, the financial flexibility that his deal brings to the team could be major help to Utah, as they could potentially be looked at as players in the free agent market during the 2015 off-season.