Devin Booker is arguably the most important perimeter player at Kentucky, as we were able to see on the team’s overtime win at Texas A&M on Saturday. The Wildcats run a non-structured offense that often fails to generate spacing for their big men to work comfortably in the post when he and Tyler Ulis are off the floor.
Booker is an excellent shooter; running around baseline screens with good speed, getting pretty good elevation off the ground, doing so in balance, exhibiting good shooting mechanics and textbook follow through. He’s hit 50.8% of his 61 three-point shots so far and Kentucky is averaging 138.4 points per 100 possessions with him in the lineup. Considering the team has size on the floor at all times, John Calipari should consider giving him more of the wing minutes available due to Alex Poythress’ injury.
But he is perhaps hesitant to do it because Booker is a fairly limited player in other areas of the game.
He doesn’t do much ball-handling on this team but has had opportunities to showcase his floor game by attacking closeouts, flashing decent ball skills and the ability to drive with either hand but failing to create much separation off the bounce. Due to his lack of explosiveness and the fact the lane is always crowded because Kentucky’s big men have little range, Booker only gets to the rim and the foul line sporadically. Often forced to take contested looks off the bounce, he’s missed 19 of his 26 two-point jump-shots, showing a tendency to fadeaway on his pull-ups.
He’s proven willing to make the extra pass around the perimeter but hasn’t flashed instincts passing out of dribble penetration, posting just 18 assists in 15 appearances.
Booker has shown better quickness on defense but his very average athleticism limits how much he can make an impact on this end as well. He exhibits good closing speed but lacks the length to effectively contest shots in the perimeter. He moves well lateral to stay in front in isolation but lacks strength to contain dribble penetration through contact. His contributions on the glass and playing the passing are all marginal as well. His defensive rating is the worst among the nine rotation players.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here and at BballBreakdown or at Upside & Motor, a couple of websites where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.