Phil Booth is a 6’3” senior combo guard for the Villanova Wildcats. Booth, a fifth year senior, has provided a calming leadership presence throughout his collegiate career. Through his junior season, Booth was featured in a more complementary, low usage, off-ball offensive role while surrounded by NBA talent (Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, etc.). This year, Booth has been thrust into a more prominent role, and has handled the uptick in offensive responsibility quite effectively. After a slow start, the Wildcats are right back in the thick of things, leading the Big East and aspiring to make yet another deep NCAA tournament run. As a result of his team’s title runs and waves of NBA talent, Booth has had NBA scouts’ eyes on him for a while now. Booth will look to continue his strong individual play through the remainder of conference play and into the tournament, and has a legitimate chance to turn that former peripheral NBA talent evaluator attention into serious NBA consideration.
Tale of the Tape
Booth is involved in a high volume of pick-and-roll actions within Coach Wright’s offense. In fact, Booth’s most frequent play type is as a pick-and-roll handler, accounting for 28.9% of his offensive possessions. Over his five years at Villanova, Booth has picked up a few pick-and-roll handler tricks of the trade from Brunson and Arcidiacono before him. Now at the helm of the Wildcat offensive attack, Booth has finally been given a chance to put what he’s learned into execution.
One unique element of Booth’s pick-and-roll handler acumen is his patience and willingness to let plays develop. Booth has an uncanny ability to drag out the hedging big or freeze help-defenders long enough to free up a teammate for an easy look. Booth is also more than capable of taking matters into his own hands and creating for himself following pick-and-roll initiation.
In offensive possessions derived from Booth’s pick-and-roll initiation, Villanova converts at a rate of 1.074 PPP, ranking Booth as a 90th percentile pick-and-roll creator for himself and others.
The positive trajectory in Booth’s AST % (16.5% as a junior → 24.7% as a senior) and TOV% (13.8% as a junior → 10.9% as a senior) on a notable uptick in usage (18.2% as a junior → 26.7% as a senior) speaks volumes of Booth’s seamless transition into a more featured role and his ability to remain cool, calm, and collected as a pick-and-roll initiator.
Booth’s pick-and-roll patience will greatly contribute to his chance to earn minutes as a role player at the professional level. The ability to make smart reads and good decisions as a pick-and-roll initiator is certainly a coveted skill among potential NBA second unit lead and combo guards.
In the clip below, we highlight Booth’s patience, intelligence, and high-level decision-making as a pick-and-roll creator for himself and others.
Functional Stride Length
Standing at 6’3’’ and lacking elite length/athleticism, Booth’s acumen as a driver is derived from more nuanced means than explosive blow-bys and above-the-rim finishes. Booth particularly excels at utilizing long, purposeful strides to get to the rim and create finishing angles. He has enough shake off-the-bounce to get past his defender’s hip and then thrusts himself into functionally long, pronounced strides en route to the rim. These strides are often taken at slightly altering angles with each step, which keeps the defense guessing and off balance. Booth has the lower body strength to gather enough explosiveness out of that last long step to propel himself toward the rim for the finish.
Booth is also very mindful of maintaining ball security throughout the duration of this process. He wraps the ball up, is physical enough to not get bumped off his spot, and is capable of finishing through contact. Booth has effectively utilized these functionally long strides and other elements of non-traditional athleticism as a driver, ranking in the 74th percentile in the half-court as a non-post-up finisher at the rim, converting at a rate of 1.276 PPP.
In the clip below, we highlight Booth’s functional stride length when attacking the basket.
Booth could benefit from supplementing this non-traditional driving package with the ability to convert on runners/floaters. Booth has taken only seven such attempts this season. To his credit, runners/floaters are not particularly efficient shots relative to restricted area or three-point attempts, however, adding them to his arsenal as a potential situational counter to help-side rim protection would be valuable at the next level.
Booth’s appeal as a 2019 NBA Draft prospect is driven by his reliability and lack of glaring weaknesses. Booth has big game experience playing in an off-ball, low usage roll alongside NBA talent, and has now supplemented that with lead guard pick-and-roll decision-making acumen. Booth’s well-rounded game, intelligence, and leadership intangibles give him a chance to eventually stick as a rotation combo guard in the NBA. As an older prospect with injury history, his chances of being drafted are relatively slim, but Booth’s ability to seamlessly integrate into his role and contribute to winning make him a viable UDFA candidate.
*Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports-Reference.com
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