Trevor Booker has been on some bad teams.
He knows what it’s like to be a young player in a losing situation: He was with the Washington Wizards for 23- and 20-win seasons his first two years in the league. That experience makes him the ideal veteran to be playing with a young and struggling Nets team this year.
Booker, 29, is the second-oldest player on a 5-15 team that has lost 10 of its last 11 games heading into Wednesday night’s game against Denver at Barclays Center. The Nets’ starting power forward said he tries to help the younger players by encouraging them to take something from every game.
“The biggest thing is just learn from it,” Booker said after practice Tuesday. “The mistakes that are made, go back and watch them. Just learn from it. The younger guys are going to make mistakes, the older guys are going to make mistakes. We have to pick each other up.
“With the younger guys, the challenge is to keep them focused once you start losing. Players can get accustomed to losing, so that’s not good. The biggest things we’re trying to do is keep everyone’s spirits up. We just have to find a way through it.”
This is the first time in his career that Booker has been a regular starter, and the Nets are pleased with the way he has taken charge of the situation. Booker posted his eighth double-double of the season in the team’s 118-113 loss to the Wizards on Monday, pairing 14 points with 14 rebounds.
“I’m so happy for him. He’s everything we want to be about,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You know, I think there were questions whether he could play this role, starting power forward. That’s a heck of a challenge. He had kind of been a backup and a limited-minutes guy. And here he is stepping in and playing 25-30 minutes every night.”
Atkinson called Booker a character guy and said that he brings the right attitude to play every night.
Said Atkinson: “He’s embracing his new role and trying to manage it. We’re asking him to do more with leadership and helping the young guys, and he’s doing it.”
Notes & quotes: Atkinson said point guard Jeremy Lin, who has been out since Nov. 4 with a hamstring injury, is progressing. Lin shot with the team on Tuesday but hasn’t gone through a full practice. Said Atkinson: “He’s not up to a full practice but building to get there.”