An Apology To Devin Booker
Plus other fun things in this week's hodgepodge
Thought of the Week: Devin Booker’s maturity
Before the season began, I compiled my list of the top 30 players in the NBA. Devin Booker was 12th in my rankings, which I felt was, if anything, pretty generous. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.
Devin has leveled up his game, again, and he looks quite comfortable sitting at the MVP table next to Steph, Luka, and the other mononyms.
Amassing 44 points two games ago and 51 points in just 31 minutes last night — he took a well-deserved break for the fourth quarter — has brought attention to a player who quietly has been as good as anyone this year.
To wit: after last night’s explosion, Booker is averaging 29 points, six assists, five rebounds, and a steal per game while taking great care of the ball. His shooting splits are just a couple of threes and free throws away from the vaunted 50/40/90 club (he’s currently shooting 49% from the field, 38% from deep, and 88% from the free throw line) despite carrying an immense offensive burden, particularly with Chris Paul missing half the season so far.
While he’s not prime Kawhi Leonard out there on the defensive end, he’s turned himself into a solid competitor (side note: a lot of superstars are taking defense more seriously this season than in years past, most notably Luka Doncic. It’s refreshing to see).
Most importantly, Booker has developed a Jimmy Butler-like sense of when to take over and when to defer to teammates, particularly during the recent dominant stretch by DeAndre Ayton (26/15 in his last four games). I firmly believe that Booker could be piling up even more statistics if he genuinely wanted, but he has realized the importance of getting teammates involved and letting them eat, too: he’s averaging the sixth-most potential assists of any non-point guard.
The Suns had plenty of stink in the offseason after their horrific last two games against Dallas in the playoffs, and although I was high on them in the preseason, I admit to being a little nervous when they went down by 22 points in the regular season opener against, you guessed it, the Mavs.
But these Suns came storming back not once but twice to complete an epic comeback in one of the year’s best games. Booker had 7 of his team-high 28 points in the fourth quarter… but more importantly, he had six assists in the period as the Dallas defense focused on stopping him.