The Denver Stiffs draft coverage continues with Devin Booker, he was the sixth man for the 38-1 Kentucky Wildcats last season. Booker is also the youngest player in this year's draft as he doesn't turn 19 years-old until Oct. 30th.
Who is Devin Booker?
Booker is only 18 years old, is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and played his high school ball in Moss Point, Mississippi. Booker's father Melvin, actually played for the Denver Nuggets during the 1996-97 season and appeared in five games for the team. During his three years at Moss Point, Booker scored 2,518 points becoming the school's all-time leading scorer.
Booker was ranked the no. 1 player coming out of Mississippi by ESPN, but wasn't as highly touted as some of his other Kentucky teammates. ESPN ranked Booker as the 18th best prospect in the country, while Rivals ranked him 29th. He chose to attend Kentucky over Duke, Michigan St., Michigan, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi.
In the following interview, Booker talks about how he doesn't watch TV and his friendship with Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis.
Take at look at Booker's stats from Kentucky:
1.) Natural Shooter: The best part of Booker's game, is his shooting stroke and ability. He is a natural shooter with a very fluid shooting motion and has good elevation on his jumper. Booker also possesses a quick release and is a versatile shooter, he's not your typical three point marksman or just a catch and shoot guy. Kentucky's sixth man, can shoot it off the dribble effectively and is also great shooting off of screens. Booker also just doesn't shoot the three well, he has a good mid range game as well, hitting 53% of his two point attempts this season. Now Booker can struggle with confidence at times shooting and can get streaky, but he should be fantastic shooter in the NBA.
2.) Size and Quickness: Booker has a great build for a NBA two, standing 6'6" and weighing 206 pounds. He has the strength to guard bigger guards and also has very good length as well, possessing a 6'8.25" wingspan. Booker also has phenomenal quickness, whether it be in the open floor, laterally or off the first step. He does a job of using his quickness on defense, showing the ability to stay in front of opposing guards and works to keep position defensively. Booker also uses his quickness to score and defend in transition, he runs well in the open floor and is a playmaker on the break.
3). Basketball IQ/Defensive Potential: This is probably the trait I feel could lead to Booker becoming a special talent at the next level. Booker has a great feel for the game and overall awareness as well. He does a great job of showcasing that IQ, when scoring off of the ball. Booker is a smart cutter off the ball and again shows alertness, on both ends of the floor.
Booker gets little to no credit for his ability as a defender, he might be the most underrated wing defender in this class. Not only does Booker have the physical traits to be a good defender, but he also has the mindset to become one. He plays with great effort on the defensive end, keeping a low stance, pressuring the ball well and forcing his opposition to work for shots on offense. Booker does a great job defending in transition, hustling to get back and again showing a good motor defensively.
1.) Creating Own Shot: Booker's handling and playmaking ability both are vastly overlooked, mainly because he was underutilized at Kentucky. However, Booker will need to improve his ball handling and creativity as a scorer to take that next step offensively. I think Booker also doesn't attack the rim much, which he should improve on given his smooth touch around the rim and first step quickness, His ability to already effectively shoot off the dribble, should give NBA teams reasons to hope he can become a more versatile scorer offensively in due time.
2.) Playing Below Rim: Now unlike the video above shows, I don't think Booker is a poor finisher he's just a inconsistent one. I've seen Booker finish thru contact and over length multiple times at Kentucky, he has a smooth game around the rim. I feel Booker chooses to play below the rim too much, rather then using his athleticism to finish with more authority. He has the length with a 6'8.25" wingspan and initial leaping ability to finish above the rim more frequently, consistency will be key for him in the NBA.
3). Passing: Booker has good court vision and playmaking instincts in my opinion, I saw him a few times throw Willie Cauley-Stein some beautiful alley-oops this season. However, he needs to improve his decision making and accuracy passing to be trusted more as a playmaker in the NBA. He can rush sometimes offensively, forcing passes and committing turnovers, but this should be something he fixes in time.
I've seen Booker compared to Clippers guard J.J. Redick and Warriors guard Klay Thompson, both players I could see Booker becoming like in the league. Personally he reminds me of former New York Knicks star Allan Houston, who's career was ended by chronic arthritis in his left knee. Both Booker and Houston are identical in size at 6'6", 205 lbs and are deadly shooters. Houston had a successful career in the NBA, averaging 17.3 points per game and shooting 40% from three for his career. He went on to lead the Knicks to a NBA Finals appearance in 1999, was named a All-Star twice and won a gold medal with Team USA in 2000. Houston was at his best during the post season, appearing in 63 playoff games for both the Pistons and Knicks. In those 63 games, Houston averaged 19.3 points per game and shot 42% from beyond the arc.
I'm not quite sure Booker is as polished of a scorer as Allan Houston, but does possess a lot of the same offensive traits. I think Booker will probably be a better defender than Houston and has the same smooth touch around the rim. He also flashes the same versatility as a shooter that Houston had, showing great touch from both the three point line and mid range. Also being able to shoot it effectively off the dribble, off screens or in catch and shoot situations. The one thing Booker must improve on to become the scorer Houston was is his handles, Houston was a much better creator off the bounce than Booker is now. Take a look at some Allan Houston highlights in the video below.
How can the Nuggets get Booker?
Booker should still be on the board when Denver selects at number seven. It's been no secret this season that I'm a big supporter of Booker's and am much higher on him than most. I currently have Booker ranked seventh on my big board and think he's the best two guard in this class, yes even over every Nuggets fans golden boy Mario Hezonja. I truly believe Booker is the gem of this class and oozes all kinds of potential, to be a special two way player in the NBA.
The Nuggets would more then likely trade back if they want Booker, seeing as most mock drafts have him going anywhere from 9-14. I don't think it'd be a reach at all to take Booker at seven, but most people would so I don't see the Nuggets taking him if they stay at seventh overall come June 25th. I believe Booker would immediately give the Nuggets the starting two guard they've been looking for, for years and provide immediate shooting and perimeter defense to the team. I would love to see the Nuggets take Booker and would be thrilled to see him playing at Pepsi Center next season. I'm just not so sure the Nuggets will take him at seven or trade back to pick him either, which ultimately I believe would be a mistake for Denver.
Booker just worked out for the Nuggets on June 5th, Denver Stiffs own Nate Timmons and FOX 31 Denver's Michelle Tuckner got some great footage from the work out. If anyone wants to question Booker's athleticism, leaping or finishing ability ... just watch the following videos and shhhhhhhhhhhhh.