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JuMu's Jazzmen Previews: #7 Trevor Booker

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In today's installment we explore one of our best free agents of the last decade, that's right, good ol' Booker T!

Witness Aaron Brooks with the typical face that those who stand in Booker's way at any point experience
Witness Aaron Brooks with the typical face that those who stand in Booker's way at any point experience
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 so far:

#8. Elijah Millsap (His post)
#9. Joe Ingles (His post)
#10. Trey Lyles (His post)

Last year's projected #7: Rudy Gobert (His post)

This ranking looks the silliest out my previews last year. I was not alone in my zany underrating of Rudy though as 18% of people in the poll said I was OVERRATING him at 7, and 64% agreed with my ranking. Only you clever 19% who said I underrated him made me quite the fool.

It just goes to show how much Rudy caught most of us offguard last season. He was not supposed to be this good, this quickly, but thank goodness he broke out!

How high will Rudy climb this year's previews?

Now, time to talk about who I predict will be our 7th best player this year, he's the first player in this top 10 so far to actually be on the team at this point in the offseason last year, and our 3rd consecutive 28 year old for this upcoming season.

#7. Trevor Booker, 6th year, 28 years old, 6'7", 240 pounds, PF (Last year's rank: 9)

Source: AP Photo

Backstory:

Trevor Booker was our best free agent acquisition last offseason. In fact as I discussed last summer, he may very well end up being our best non-draft-related acquisition since the D-Will trade which netted us Favors. His only competition for this title is Marvin WilliamsRichard Jefferson, and Mo Williams (Case #2938458 of why the Jazz cannot build a team through free agency, just drafts and trades).

He is one of our 4 players from the 2010 NBA Draft (Favors at 3rd, Hayward at 9th, Booker at 23rd, Pleiß at 31st, Former Jazzman Evans was 55th).

Notice how consistent of a player Booker has been through his career with his per 36 minute stats:

Season G FGA FG% FT% REB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2010-11 65 8.6 0.549 0.673 8.5 1.2 1.0 1.4 1.3 3.9 11.7
2011-12 50 9.7 0.531 0.602 9.3 1.1 1.4 1.2 1.7 3.9 12.0
2012-13 48 8.9 0.491 0.556 9.7 1.6 1.3 0.6 1.3 3.9 10.4
2013-14 72 9.3 0.551 0.618 8.8 1.5 1.0 1.0 1.3 3.0 11.4
2014-15 79 10.7 0.487 0.581 9.1 1.9 1.0 0.9 2.0 3.3 13.1
Career 314 9.6 0.521 0.606 9.1 1.5 1.1 1.1 1.6 3.5 11.8

You know what you're going to get with Booker for the most part: a hustle player and perfectly competent backup power forward who can score and get his boards like clockwork.

You may notice the slight uptick in FGA but lower FG% last season. No, this isn't Booker becoming more of a ballhog, it looks like Quin Snyder finally gave Booker the go-ahead to shoot the long ball this season. Booker shot 10 three pointers in his 4 years with the Wizards, last season he shot a whopping 84 while making a respectable 29 of them!

People this time last year were clamoring for Kanter to be our three point shooting big man after seeing how well Millsap pulled it off for the Hawks the year before.

Well, the Jazz tried that little experiment and apparently deemed it a failure (31% on wide open threes wasn't blowing anybody away). But the good news is we got our competent stretch 4 in Booker as he was our team's 5th best 3 point shooter last season (behind Burks, Hood, Hayward, and Ingles).

Also as a reminder, Booker had one of our team's best performances last season:

What to Expect This Season:

Source: Deseret News

Trevor Booker's role with the Jazz moving forward is going to be highly contingent on Trey Lyles' development.

Booker will be playing in a contract year this season for an extremely good value in today's NBA at just under $5 million.

There will definitely be a handful of interested suitors looking for a cheap 1 year rental in the form of a 3rd big quality player in Booker.

If Lyles develops ahead of schedule and appears ready by All Star Break to play 20 minutes per game while holding his own on the court, be on the lookout for teams in the playoff race who need a stretch 4 in Booker making calls to Dennis Lindsey.

Unless Lyles appears to be a complete bust this season, it appears unlikely or at least not the best choice for the Jazz to offer him another contract next summer for a few reasons.

1. In today's NBA and salary climate, Booker could easily make twice as much on the open market.

2. The Jazz will have to be very mindful of juggling contracts due to arguably 5 of our top 6 players Hayward, Favors, Exum, Hood, and Gobert all being up for new contracts in 2 crucial back-to-back offseasons in 2017/2018.

3. Lyles at less than an average of $3 million per season through 2019 as our backup PF makes more sense than shelling out 8 figures for a 3rd big.

From my speculation here, I would project Booker to get about the same playing time he did last year for, at the bare minimum, the first third of the season. Depending on Lyles' development and/or what trade offers the Jazz receive in exchange for Booker we will see Booker's role with the Jazz diminish or possibly vanish entirely in the case he gets traded or leaves in free agency.

Assuming he stays with the team the full season, here are my projections of Booker's stats:

G

MP

FGA

FG%

FT%

TRB

STL

BLK

PTS

PER

WS

VORP

80

18.0

6

0.500

0.620

5.0

0.5

0.5

8.0

15.0

3.5

0.5


You can count on Booker as your 3rd big, he has his weaknesses just like any other backup big men, but his hustle keeps him relevant day in and day out!

Conclusion:

This is going to be an important season for Booker and the Jazz's relationship. They will be playing a balancing act together of whether or not it is in their best interests to keep Booker with the team long-term or even for the rest of the season once  a couple desperate teams looking for any weapon to use to work their way up the next rung of the playoff ladder.

There are legitimate reasons that the Jazz could come out better off in the short to keep Booker with them for the next few seasons, but based on the Jazz's commitment to the long-term, and all the other contracts that will be coming up for renewal,

It strongly appears that Booker's days in Utah are numbered and quickly dwindling

I personally am still going to cherish and enjoy every single game Booker plays with us, and hopefully he even explodes for another 30+ point outburst or too.

If he's a key piece to our hopeful playoff run this season, I'm all for it.

All I'm giving warning to is to not get too attached to Booker, it makes the best sense for the Jazz long-term for them to prioritize other players over him. So unless Booker is still interested in playing for $8 million per year or less come free agency, then sorry Trevor, but we've got bigger mouths to feed.

Chances of him being with the team in the 2016-2017 season:

20%