Forward adds much-needed energy
Trevor Booker's first two seasons have gone similarly.
He started each year as a reserve, providing an infectious amount of energy, athleticism and production off the bench. He impressed enough to play his way into the starting lineup for a stretch. Then he had his season end prematurely because of a foot injury.
Heading into his third season, Booker is the only returning Wizards player who didn't make an appearance during last year's season-ending six-game winning streak. He's healthy again after undergoing a pair of platelet-rich plasma treatments during the offseason to help speed recovery from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
"I stayed in the training room, doing a lot of corrective work," said Booker, whose rookie season ended with a broken sesamoid bone in his right foot. "Hopefully it'll pay off this season."
Before the injury he put up 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds a game, an incremental improvement from 5.3 points and 3.9 boards as a rookie, and he's a career 53.9 percent shooter from the field. He had 10 games last season with 10 or more rebounds, and the best of his four double-doubles was an 18-point, career-high 17-rebound performance in a 106-101 upset of the Los Angeles Lakers in March.
"His energy level is contagious," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "When you're playing out there with him, you can look silly if you're not the same level. Having guys like that is always good to have."
There are also minutes to be earned at power forward, particularly because of the delayed start for Nene, who also is recovering from plantar fasciitis. Booker, who made 14 starts in his first season and 32 last year, will vie for playing time alongside Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin. At 6-foot-8, he's the shortest frontcourt player on the roster but makes up for it with speed and toughness.
"I thought he made some strides last year before his injury," Wittman said. "He needs to be consistent with the 15-foot jump shot. All our bigs need to continue to do that. We don't necessarily have what you call a spread four on this team."
From 15 to 19 feet last season, Booker shot 42.9 percent (15-for-35), a touch behind Seraphin (13-for-29, 44.8 percent) and well ahead of Vesely (2-for-19, 10.5 percent).
"I worked on it most of the summer," Booker said. "That's pretty much the thing I focused on. I feel pretty comfortable taking it."
The only thing Booker appears set to give up is usage of his given first name. He has been called "Book" since his arrival in Washington. But now when the name "Trevor" is called out in practice, it's meant in reference to Trevor Ariza.
"That's the first time," Ariza said when asked whether he ever has had a teammate before with the same name. "Usually I don't run into too many Trevors. He's definitely going to be Book. I'm going to be Trevor."