One of the NBA’s rising stars, Devin Booker, is making strides this season in ways that few saw coming. Averaging 24.3 PPG and 4.1 APG, Booker is helping to keep a struggling Suns team aloft that traded away one of its more potent scoring options in Eric Bledsoe.
Booker has been growing as a player and becoming more productive on the court since the day he was drafted, but the most focal point in his rise to stardom came earlier this year, on March 24th against the Celtics. On that night, he scored an astonishing 70 points on 21-40 shooting in a close loss at TD Garden. This performance set the bar for him going forward, and also helped bring him to the foreground in the discussion of best young players in the league. After his historic night in Boston, Booker averaged 27.5 PPG over his final 7 games of last season. Booker’s huge jump in production has been surprising largely because of his college numbers. While at Kentucky, he didn’t start a single game and averaged just 10 PPG and 1.1 APG, not a terrible stat line, but lower than any of his NBA season averages thus far. After being drafted 13th overall by Phoenix in 2015, he has really come into his own and shown why he deserves to be mentioned with some of the best players in the league.
Over the course of the current season, Booker has put up 30 points or more 10 times, and scored 46 in a win over the 76ers last week. One of the biggest reasons for Suns fans to be excited about Booker is his clutch gene. In a game against the Bucks at the end of last month, the Suns were down 3 with 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Tyler Ulis threw a pass down court to Booker. While tightly guarded, Booker pivoted, and fired up a 35-foot jumper that found the bottom of the net to force overtime. It’s plays like this that have basketball analysts and fans whispering of comparisons to Kobe Bryant. With a name like that being thrown around, it’s no doubt Booker is one of the most exciting players to watch in the league today, and there’s no telling how high his ceiling can be.
By: Will Eudy