They Smell Like the Future: Trevor Booker

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 22, 2010 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Clemson senior
6’7.5”, 236 lbs (combine measurements)
22 years old
Power forward
Projection: Early second rounder

It’s extremely unlikely that the Mavs will even sniff Trevor Booker in the draft. Even if Trevor isn’t guaranteed a spot in the first round, he seems to be everyone’s favorite early second rounder. That’s only logical given Booker’s size and skills, but there’s still the remote possibility that Trevor slips on Thursday night. After all, in this zany NBA draft world, stranger things have happened. Stranger DeJuan Blair-y things, for one. Obviously Booker doesn’t come with the same health concerns that Blair did, but some talented players just end up dropping on draft night for footnotes on their draft profile. There’s nothing to indicate Booker could be such a player at present, but the draft winds are still blowing.

Part of the problem is that at a little over 6’7”, Booker seems like the type of college big man that could theoretically struggle to produce at the next level. He won’t be a consistent post threat in the pros, which is why his ceiling is likely as a fringe starter, but a more realistic projection might be as a decent, competent reserve. Trevor can rebound and score — even without having as many post-up opportunities  — in the NBA, but it’s going to take some adjustment. It requires unbelievable talent to make the jump from NCAA standout to NBA player, but the contrast in styles and athleticism also forces lesser players to make changes to their game that they’re not always comfortable with (or capable of) making.

It’s one thing for a guy like Booker to accept a smaller role as a pro. That’s essentially a given, and when he’s selected in the second round, there’s an implicit understanding that he’s not brought in to be a star. It shouldn’t keep him from working hard and clawing to get what he can, but it should force certain modifications to Trevor’s approach. Against college defenders, Booker’s size was a non-issue. He could go to work inside, and use every bit of his strength and length to force his way into easy buckets. It just won’t fly against most NBA defenders, and Booker will need to continue to diversify his game (while maintaining the essence of who he was at Clemson) to become a real NBA player.

The same goes for the defensive end, which could be where the real trouble begins. I don’t doubt that Booker will work hard to improve his defense, it’s just important that we retain realistic expectations for a 6’7” power forward. Rebounding is different; we’ve seen a number of undersized bigs become rebounding machines in the pros. There’s just something instinctive about hitting the boards, and it’s so intuitive to some of these players that they simply can’t be denied. But how many undersized bigs have gone on to become defensive weapons? Or even average defensively? They do exist, but the odds are against Booker being efficient defender as an NBA 4.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the guy among the second round prospects. Hard-working, athletic power forwards will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m actually pretty high on Trevor’s ability to stick in the L. But like so many other late draft selections — and this is a point that honestly hasn’t been hammered in enough of these draft profiles — Booker doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. No second rounder does. Lottery players are expected to produce and those that go in the second round or aren’t drafted at all are expected to fail. That’s clearly not always the result, but expectations needs to be low, even if only so Booker can shatter them.

Trevor can be an NBA player, and he really is an impressive athletic specimen. On top of that, he’s exactly the sort of aggressive scorer that just about anyone would love to have on their team. His height will likely play a major factor though, as his tear-the-rim-down mentality from college will be met with the waiting arms of NBA shot-blockers. If Trevor can work on his face-up game and further refine his driving abilities, there will be a roster spot for him on a number of teams. If not, he’ll go down as yet another impressive college player that couldn’t quite cut it. I’m rooting for him, and at this point I’m damn near positive he’ll be able to adjust while still thriving in some of the same areas that made him a success at Clemson. Yet if he doesn’t, there will unfortunately be nothing spectacular about his failure. It’s hard out there for a second-rounder.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

PTSREBASTTOSTL/BLKFG%3FG%
Per Game15.28.42.51.91.3/1.4.521.265
Per 4019.810.93.32.51.7/1.8------

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):

TS%eFG%ORB%TO%AST%FTRUSG%
54.953.010.014.417.347.324.8

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):

STL%BLK%DRB%
2.44.620.4

Other People:

Kyle Nelson, Draft Express: “Despite being tougher and more athletic than most post players at the collegiate level, Booker has become far more perimeter-oriented and somewhat less efficient on the offensive end. Though his 3-point shooting numbers are down to an unsightly 26.9%, his form is much improved, far more fluid and quick than in past seasons, suggesting that he could develop into a solid shooting option at the next level from inside of the NBA three point line. He also looks considerably more adept on pick and pop plays from mid-range. Evaluating his ability to attack matchups off the dribble, he appears to have improved as well, looking eager to beat opponents with his terrific first step. Unfortunately, for as much as he has improved his ball handling abilities through the course of his career, he is still not that efficient in this area, looking overly ambitious at times, turning over the ball over in iso situations, not getting quality looks at the basket, and not drawing contact at the rim. Similarly, he does not seem to know his limits, as he lacks the offensive polish and basketball IQ at this point to be a prolific slasher at this level or in the NBA. All things considered, though, Booker’s improvements from the perimeter as a shot-creator and jump-shooter should be duly noted, despite the fact that it’s hurt his efficiency numbers in the process.”

Fran Fraschilla, ESPN.com’s Draft Blog: “As a junior, he was the first ACC player since Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan to lead the league in rebounding and field goal percentage. It’s a good indication of his warrior-like approach around the basket. While undersized, he should provide a spark for an NBA team in its rotation. At worst, he’ll be a great ninth or 10th man..”

David Thorpe, ESPN.com: “I’d lean heavily to Trevor Booker. NBA execs mention Paul Millsap and Carl Landry when they are discussing Booker. Um, hello? Those are two of the top 18 power forwards in the game! Booker has the “beast” mentality with long arms — a perfect combination. If his neck was an inch longer, he’d be a lottery candidate. Who cares about neck length?’”

Supplementary Materials:

I’ve been trying to stay away from highlight reels, but it’s important to really see this guy in action. Just a beast. Pardon the video quality, effects, and music, though.

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.