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Posted at 3:29 PM ET, 02/ 6/2011

Trevor Booker learning to play small forward

By Michael Lee

Yi Jianlian sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' loss on Saturday to the Atlanta Hawks. Yi landed on John Wall's foot after attempting to block a layup attempt by Hawks reserve forward Damien Wilkins in the fourth quarter. He limped off the floor, went to the locker room and didn't return.

Coach Flip Saunders said he wouldn't know about Yi until the team practices on Monday, but Yi said that he should be okay. If Yi is forced to miss any time, it could open a chance for Trevor Booker to get more minutes at his preferred position. With Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche and Yi taking up most of the time at power forward, Booker has had to scrap for opportunities.

Booker has provided some quality production in recent weeks, as he scored a career-high 21 points in Oklahoma City, grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in Oklahoma City and Memphis, and notched a career-high six blocked shots against Orlando. "He's been really one of our most consistent players, since starting the road trip," Saunders said.

The 6-foot-7 Booker was drafted to be rugged, undersized power forward, but with the frontcourt logjam created by the addition of Lewis, Saunders said the team has been developing the rookie to play small forward. "Right now, he's not totally comfortable. There is a dilemma, depending on how Dray's playing, he's a guy who can cut into his time. that's why, maybe it's important for him to learn that three spot. With the way his energy is, what he gives us defensively, we have to keep him on the floor."

Saunders had hoped to utilize Booker more against the Hawks, but foul trouble limited him to just 10 minutes. "It hurt us that Book got in foul trouble," Saunders said. "You hate to say it, but here you got a rookie, and he's become one of your guys you gotta count on to give you energy and defend for you. But him getting those fouls took away his aggressiveness, took him out of the game."

When asked how Booker would look at small forward, Saunders said, "He's going to be a big three. He'll be able at times to do some punishment inside, maybe create a mismatch, he's going to give you more strength, more strength, more rebounding. We should be a better rebounding team and you think a better defensive team."

Josh Howard is moving closer to a return. He hasn't played since Jan. 5 in Philadelphia, but he has been practicing since Thursday and increasing the work load on his left knee. Saunders said he would like to have Howard back by Saturday against San Antonio or Sunday in Cleveland. "That's what we're hoping."

By Michael Lee  | February 6, 2011; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, Josh Howard, Trevor Booker, Yi Jianlian  
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Next: "Small margin of error," difficult schedule adds up to losing streak

Comments

BulletsFever: Sam Cassell are you kidding me, dude he barely qualifies as an assistant in this league much less a head coach.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 5, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Dargregmag. Long time no hear from from our daily battles the last two years about your boy Eddie Jordan. Anyway, so who do you have in mind then? And please tell me it is not another "retread" for a coach....???

Now, could you tell me what "qualifies" a person to be an NBA assistant? Hummmm??? Let me think here....

Sam Cassell Bio:
1/ Has 3 RINGS (3 RINGS......!!!)
2/ He played in the league for 15 years for 8 Teams. (Guess how many coaches he has had a chance to learn from?)
3/ He is a NBA All Star and All NBA Team member.
4/ He played with at least 7 bona-fided HOF's during the duration of his career.
5/ He played the point guard position. That is like playing the quarterback on your football team.
6/ Sam had to know everybody's position including his own. He was the timemanager on the floor and the play setup man. What better "under fire" experience can somebody have????

Did Mike Tomlin "barely" qualify to take over being the coach for the Steelers? At the time you could have asked the same thing. More teams should use the examples of the Steelers. Bill Cowher and Chuck Knoll were also in their 30's when the Steelers hired them.

Don't know how much NBA ball you have watched, but everytime you watched a game where Sam Cassell was running the point, all of the various NBA Analysts and former players always said he would be a great NBA head coach once he hung up his sneakers. And yes, I totally agreed with those assestments.

Posted by: BulletsFever | February 6, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Josh Howard is moving closer to a return. He hasn't played since Jan. 5 in Philadelphia, but he has been practicing since Thursday and increasing the work load on his left knee. Saunders said he would like to have Howard back by Saturday against San Antonio or Sunday in Cleveland. "That's what we're hoping."

By Michael Lee | February 6, 2011; 3:29 PM ET

Flip, please save Josh for the Cav's game, because that might be the only way the Wiz will win that game. He might not be able to jump out there and play a "back to back" right off of the bat.

I would rather save him for the Cav's game. To much is riding on that. The Wiz do not want to be the team the Cav's break their losing streak on. Also, that might be the only chance before number 29 comes up that the Wiz could actually win a road game. Keep Josh out of the Spurs game, Flip and medical staff......!!!!!

Posted by: BulletsFever | February 6, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

One of the more disappointing moments last night occurred with the outcome decided...less than a minute to play and coming off a 20sec timeout, the ball goes to AB at the top of the key and he stumbles around towards the rim and misses an awkward J. Is that what Flip drew up? You'd think not, but the EXACT same thing happened after a timeout to end the 2ndQ against New Orleans.

Is Saunders just saying "Give it to Dray and let him create"? Or is Blatche breaking off set plays Flip draws up during the time out? I'm not sure which scenario is worse.

Posted by: divi3 | February 6, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Booker should definitely continue to work on his skills at the 3. Given that he might never be able to be a full-time starting PF, it behooves him to diversify his game as much as he can, while still remembering where his strengths lie.

In the NBA right now there are definitely a lot of guys who are big 3s / small 4s that Book will be able to match up with / defend. If he continues to work at it, imo he can a good NBA role player and borderline starter for a long time.

Defense, rebounding, strength and hustle will be his calling cards, especially in the near term. But long term, he will need to be able to knock down 15-18fters. Save that for later though Books, we've got more than enough guys taking those shots already. He also has to work on finishing inside against what are now much taller players.

Posted by: ts35 | February 6, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

BulletsFever; In response to your post Sam has a nice resume in term's of playing experience, i noticed you mentioned pro football coach's, i think pro football lends itself to a completely different style of coaching. I think Sam needs more time surrounding himself with better mentors, the good news; by being around Flip Sam is hopefully learning what not to do. I'll throw out two candidates; Mike Woodson, who i think got a raw deal in Atlanta last year after taking the Hawk's from worst to a playoff team, and Lester Conner (Hawk's assistant) who really impressed me while being interviewed after the Hawk's escaped the other night against the Clippers. The other side of the scenario with the Wiz is that they need to rid themselves of Andray Blatche aka the serial skirt chaser needless to say EG and Flip have got to go.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 6, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Ok I might could go with the Mike Woodson selection, but again he is another "old school" coach and those type of guys (i.e. Jordan, Tapscott, and Flip) don't seem to work for this team. Now I like Lester's resume, but he strikes me like he is a little bit laid back like Larry Drew.

Nothing against that but this young Wiz team needs somebody that is animated and a in your face type of coach and that is another reason why I want Sam for the pick.

As for the football comparison, if anything coaching football is way more difficult to do then basketball because football coaches have way more people to deal with on three sub teams (Offense, Defense and Special Teams).

Lastly as for AB, he needs to look at some tape of himself the first two years he came into the league. If anyone remembers, he was the guy who came off of the bench with all of the energy (i.e. McGee) and blocking shots. I think AB has to do the "Rocky" thing and go back to the old dirty gym and get back the "eye of the tiger".


Posted by: BulletsFever | February 6, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Saunders said. "You hate to say it, but here you got a rookie, and he's become one of your guys you gotta count on to give you energy and defend for you."

You see, this is why this coach is clueless sometimes. Why would you want to hate to say that about a rookie.

Aww shucks. I forgot. Teaching from the negative is a Flip forte. Rather than just compliment the Rookie he has to take a dig at his Team as well.

One step forward and one step back. Very good Flip.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 6, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Saunders said. "You hate to say it, but here you got a rookie, and he's become one of your guys you gotta count on to give you energy and defend for you."

You see, this is why this coach is clueless sometimes. Why would you want to hate to say that about a rookie.

Aww shucks. I forgot. Teaching from the negative is a Flip forte. Rather than just compliment the Rookie he has to take a dig at his Team as well.

One step forward and one step back. Very good Flip.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 6, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Because it kinda sucks that a guy that's been in the league for what 50+ games is a guy that takes more pride in playing hard and defense than a 6-year veteran that was seen as a building block for the team and was just given a contract extension.

Just my thoughts though.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 6, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

In the previous blog I posted the ultimate offseason rebuild plan. If your name is Ernie Grunfeld you should read it!!

Posted by: Darnell1 | February 6, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Boo-Yah.....next Sunday. WIZ break their road losing streak as CLEVELAND sets the NBA standard for futility.

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 6, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

With his strength and speed, Booker's probably a pretty good matchup against SFs who like to penetrate. An example would be Luol Deng, who's hurt the Wiz in the past. He's probably not a good matchup against a really good jumpshooting SF, because he likes to cheat back inside.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 6, 2011 9:33 PM | Report abuse

"You see, this is why this coach is clueless sometimes. Why would you want to hate to say that about a rookie."

Exactly.

The Wiz need someone who is "encouraging" and that's not Flip, aka "Eeyore."

I don't think it's a shock that when Flip was was gone for that game to be with his mom that the team played better.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 6, 2011 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Here we are this far into the season and were still talking about what Blatche needs to do. He needs to become a competitive player. Flip needs to know his personnel, and know how to be more positive. It's a young impressionable team. I do not think he will ever turn this team around, he's had two years of sub-par results, despite the troubles. I still say if John Wooden or Morgan Wooten ran this team there would have never been an Arenas episode. Any other credible coach would have made sure there was not that kind of activity on the team. There are a heck of a lot worse people on BB teams and the other coaches never had these situations. Maybe P.J. Carlesimo.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 6, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

"The Wiz need someone who is "encouraging" and that's not Flip, aka "Eeyore."I don't think it's a shock that when Flip was was gone for that game to be with his mom that the team played better.Posted by: rmcazz"

Oh, puh-leeze. I suppose that's why Bobby Knight and Larry Brown never won any rings -- they're just not nurturing enough. Whereas Randy Wittman encouraged his Cleveland club to that glossy 62-102 record.

Flip isn't Eeyore, and Phil Jackson isn't Christopher Robin.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 7, 2011 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Saunders said. "You hate to say it, but here you got a rookie, and he's become one of your guys you gotta count on to give you energy and defend for you.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 6, 2011 7:39 PM |

What Flip?? no no Flip u are missing the point.
We are what 50 games into the season. Out of those 50 game you have Trevor Booker whenever he was in out playing all the forwards and centers we have on this roster, yet you refuse to give the kid constaint PT. Now when we are 13-37 then he sudden became a go 2 guy.
Is this just me or is anyone else finding something wrong with this statement?

Posted by: YEAwizards | February 7, 2011 5:40 AM | Report abuse

next sunday ohio break the lossing record , not the wizard.The chance is over 80%.
why? No defense, the coach is flip, the PF is AB and the team has no motivation from now on to win either road or home games.If Ted needs motivation and some fan to the arena, he need to get rid of flip and EG.

Posted by: gtefferra | February 7, 2011 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Indiana goes 4 and O since owner fired the coach.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 7, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Booker, I think he can easily play the three because he is still quick and athletic enough to defend the quicker 3s. His biggest hurdle is having a consistent jumper. If he ever develops that, he honestly has a shot to be a star in this league, no joke. The tools are there and he's a smart, aggressive player. It will probably take a little bit of a change to the offense but he is a good fit if you put Lewis at the 4 and put Blatche and/or McGee on the bench.

Posted by: meatkins | February 7, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Trevor Booker is the truth and I've been saying this since we drafted him. He plays with heart and desire every night and he doesn't need the ball to score but he can with his back to the basket and his jump shot will develop for facing the basket.

He can be an all-star in this league. All of the intangibles are there except for the jump shot which he and Wall will work on this summer.

For all the haters out there saying he is too small to play power forward or knocking Ernie Grunfield for drafting Booker to play the 4, beware..it is not about actual height but about how big you actually play. I don't endorse every Ernie move but Booker was a steel on draft night. He plays much bigger than 6'7 although he's really probably 6'5. I see a young Barkley if he ever gets a real shot...a lefty too.

We have enough 7 footers who play like thy are 6'5 small forwards.

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

There's been a lot of negativity on these boards after losses...don't forget we r rebuilding. I'm not sure what a lot of people's expectations were but we're being led by a 20 year old rookie who has played one year of college basketball. Stop being so negative after losses. Our team will be much much better in the second half of next year. The following year we will make some noise. Patience, patience, patience. There's a lot of nit picking at everyone's game. Did you really expect us to be in contention this year. Every team from our division except us made the playoffs last year.

Our players haven't earned the respect around the league yet especially from the refs. U need that to win in the league specifically in crunch time. Nick Young gets fouled every time he goes to the basket. Might as well call his on fouls in the game.

Flip will hopefully be long gone soon. Sam probably want be our coach but Sam Cassell would make an excellent head coach for the young Wiz for all the reasons that have been stated above.

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

[Booker] plays much bigger than 6'7 although he's really probably 6'5." posted by: JWADE4"

He was measured at 6'6.25" in his socks. Average for PF in the database is 6'7.7", for SF 6'6". He's basically average height for the 3, but average weight for the 4. And based on his bench press reps at least, he's way stronger than most PFs and centers. As strong as Blake Griffin.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 7, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"Nick Young gets fouled every time he goes to the basket."

Maybe that's why he stays outside and shoots jumpers...

Posted by: Samson151 | February 7, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

We need a lot of work and it is not all on the refs but if the refs make consistent call at the end of most of our games especially a few of the road games, we're not 0-and whatever on the road...I stopped counting. The Wiz are not respected...we are and some of our individual players are not as bad as they seem.

Losses compound issues. Wins hide them.

I agree, Nick need to go to the basket much more but why go if you can't get calls. He should definitely go to the basket more late in the game but the way it is being called is ridiculous.

I'm not naive either. We can improve in a lot of areas but don't take the game from us.

Javale does stupid things on the court at times but the some of the fouls called on him are a joke. Is anyone else seeing this?

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"(Trevor Booker) can be an all-star in this league."

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 10:07 AM

Not if "this league" is the NBA he can't.

Booker can be a solid role player, maybe an important piece to a playoff caliber team. But he's not all-star material. And that's okay.

The 6-foot-7 Booker was drafted to be rugged, undersized power forward, but with the frontcourt logjam created by the addition of Lewis, Saunders said the team has been developing the rookie to play small forward. "Right now, he's not totally comfortable. There is a dilemma, depending on how Dray's playing, he's a guy who can cut into his time. that's why, maybe it's important for him to learn that three spot. With the way his energy is, what he gives us defensively, we have to keep him on the floor."

Well, Blatche has been playing like crap pretty much all season, so I really don't see the dilemma.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 7, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@Kalorama

You would be surprised what playing time and confidence from your coach and team mates can do for you.

Kalorama said, "Yes, Booker can be an important role player on a playoff caliber team but not all star."

If Gerald Wallace can make the all star team as a pure athlete I'll put my money on Booker being able to make it and I'm not comparing their games because Gerald's game is ugly but definitely respected..he brings it every night. I didn't say a perennial all-star but don't forget we will get better and he is definitely apart of our young nucleaus.

Booker is a rookie with an upside that many still don't see. The potential is there, Kalorama...I think you see it too.

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Booker isn't Gerald Wallace. There's really no comparison of the two. What Wallace has done has absolutely nothing to do with what Booker might or can do. Zilch. Pointing out that they're both "athletes" is meaningless. Every player in the NBA is an "athlete." The bar to becoming an All-Star is a good bit higher than that.

"The potential is there, Kalorama...I think you see it too."

I see his potential to be a solid role player as a physical, rebounding, hustling undersized PF. I see no potential for him being an All-Star.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 7, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

There is no all-star bar. Every year there are worthy all-stars that are overlooked and there are perennial all stars that are undeserving.

Small markets, winning records, the worst(fan-voting), and a host of other things ultimately determine all-star appearances.

I'm not arguing with you on that..a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. You've obviously seen enough of Booker to see that his ceiling stops at being a "solid role player as a physical, rebounding, hustling undersized PF with no no potential for him to be an All-Star."

I'm just curious...what's ur take on John Wall so far and how do you feel about Nick Young's progression or regression...

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"There is no all-star bar."

Of course there is. To suggest otherwise is silly. There's no set criteria for being an all-star, but there's certainly a generally recognized level of accomplishment that most all-stars achieve. And Booker has done nothing to suggest he's likely to achieve that. Doesn't mean he won't, but it certainly seems unlikely.

"Every year there are worthy all-stars that are overlooked. . . "

True. But I fail to see how that has anything to do with Booker's chances of becoming an All-Star.

". . . and there are perennial all stars that are undeserving."

Except the fact that they're perennial All-Stars (which you've already said you don't expect from Booker) places them in a different category. The reason a guy like Tim Duncan gets put on the team despite having a (comparatively) down year statistically is because he's Tim Duncan. The 12 years of deserved All-Star appearances gives him some leeway. It's a safe bet that Booker won't have that working in his favor.

You seem to be under the impression that I'm somehow criticizing Booker or have a negative opinion of him. Nothing could be further than the truth. I'm very optimistic about his chances to be a good NBA player. Unlike most fans, however, I'm also realistic about it.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 7, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"You've obviously seen enough of Booker to see that his ceiling stops at being a "solid role player as a physical, rebounding, hustling undersized PF with no no potential for him to be an All-Star."

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 12:16 PM

I see you've been taking lessons from the divi3 school of argumentation. The "I dismiss your evaluation of a player as lacking foundation because it's based on a limited sample while endorsing my own evaluation of the same player as valid and supportable despite it being based on the same limited sample" is right out of his course guide.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 7, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't know divi and you have all of the answers champ.

Where is your ceiling on John Wall. How many or will he ever make an allstar team based on his play right now?

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't know divi3...never heard of him and you seem to have a very high basketball IQ.

Where is your ceiling on John Wall? How many or will he ever make an NBA all-star team based on his play right now?

What is your player assessment on the proposed face of this franchise for years to come?

Posted by: JWADE4 | February 7, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Booker is a nice player. He should be at the top setting picks in that offense not Blatche. Booker has a real consistent shot from the elbow. This is the area he was most effective at Clemson. And not a bad passer. We know the guy will bang. All star not realistic because he is clearly a tweener in this league. 15 and 7 would be nice.

Posted by: joeortega4 | February 7, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse

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