Booker’s arrival coincides with great play, poor results

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly editor 

When the Sixers traded Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas to the Brooklyn Nets for Trevor Booker on December 7 it appeared to just be the long awaited trade that would get Jahlil Okafor out of Philadelphia after nearly two years of being on the trade block.

While the Sixers did accomplish one goal in unloading Okafor, they apparently believed that they checked off another box by acquiring Booker in the deal.

"Trevor Booker has been a solid and competitive two-way contributor at every NBA stop," said general manager Bryan Colangelo. "Trevor’s abilities should complement our style of play and his experience should add to our bench depth with playoff contention in mind.” 

The eight-year veteran power forward has appeared to have filled the exact need specified by Colangelo with Booker never failing to bring energy. Interestingly Booker described himself as a "bigger T.J. McConnell," who is the Sixers' resident spark plug off of the bench. 

Since joining the Sixers, Booker has been on the best stretch of his career with career-highs in free throw percentage (83.3%), and player efficiency rating (17.7), and his third-highest field goal percentage (54.0%).

Coincidentally, the Sixers were 2-9 in their first 11 games with Booker – the team's worst stretch of the season. Now the Sixers have won five of their last six and four straight.

The question is whether or not Booker has caused a negative or positive impact since his arrival. 

One area to look at it is in the team's bench – the area which Booker was brought in to improve. The Sixers bench ranks 26th in scoring this season. Before the arrival of Trevor Booker the Sixers bench averaged a meager 25.91 points per game. The Sixers bench is now averaging 28.53 points per game since Booker joined the roster, nearly three points more per game. 

While the Sixers record dipped initially after Booker's arrival his individual efficiency has been noticeable even if the rest of the team was under-performing. It is easy to point the finger at Booker since his arrival coincided with copious losing, but the veteran power forward has impacted the Sixers positively. 

Much like Amir Johnson, his work ethic on and off the court has been praised and valued, for it is a characteristic that the Sixers want to instill in thieir young core. 

While there is no stat to measure work ethic, we do know that Booker is playing some of the best basketball of his career with the Sixers, and now that strong play has filtered throughout the lineup with the team going on a torrid stretch to win five of their last six games. 

While he is not a game-changing player, it does appear that Booker's presence will improve the team, in fact it already has.