The Suns made shooting guard Devin Booker the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, but it’s taken until this season — his fifth as a pro — for him to enter the discussion as being a superstar. It took a while, but he is finally living up to the potential the Suns saw in him when they took him in the first round of the draft coming out of Kentucky. Let’s take a look at the season Booker is having, and how he is helping the Suns to play better than was expected this season.
Devin Booker’s 2019 season
In his first four seasons in the NBA, people had questions about whether he was more than just a volume shooter. This season, Devin Booker has answered that question with a resounding yes.
He’s also looking like he could be the best player on the Suns, with the ability to bring them their first championship in franchise history. Booker’s actual numbers are slightly down through his first nine games, as he is averaging 25.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game.
As is often the case, though, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. For people who are actually watching Booker play will notice that he is playing the best basketball of his career on both ends of the court.
Going beyond the box score
Looking beyond just the stats you see in the box score, Devin Booker is putting up very efficient shooting splits at .545/.532/.929. That makes him one of just two players in the league — along with Kings F Nemanja Bjelica — as the only qualified players exceeding shooting splits of 50-50-90.
As of November 10, Booker was leading the NBA in three-point percentage, minimum 40 attempts from beyond the arc, at 53.2%. Booker is also shooting better than 70% within five feet of the basket, which leads all guards with a minimum of 5.5 attempts per game in the restricted area.
Teammate Tyler Johnson says he’s been around a lot of “really, really, really good players” in his career, including Hall of Famers, but he thinks Booker is “probably the best” he’s ever seen among pure shooters. He’s also performing well when it matters most — late in games. Both Booker and the Suns are among the best in the league when it comes to fourth-quarter scoring this season.
Devin Booker’s success leads to team success
Booker’s play is also helping the rest of the Suns perform better on offense as he helps to serve as the engine behind one of the NBA’s top offenses. While Ricky Rubio is the team’s primary playmaker, Booker is a key part of the offensive system that is among the league’s best in assists per game, assist percentage, and field goal percentage.
All of that has led to a massive improvement for the Suns. They won just 19 games all of last season this year they’ve won seven of their first 13 games, putting them in playoff positioning early in the season and putting them on pace for their first winning season since the 2013-14 campaign. And Booker is definitely playing a big part of that success.
There is a massive difference in the team’s net-rating when he’s on the floor, compared to when he’s not, and the Suns’ offense drops by more than 20 points per 100 possessions when he is on the bench. Suns head coach Monty Williams explains it as simply as Booker is “just tired of the same ol’ same ol’.”
Teammate Kelly Oubre Jr. is getting used to seeing this level of play from Booker, saying he’s “seen it before” and he’s “gonna see it again.”