NBA

NBA Star Devin Booker Wasn’t Even a Starter at Kentucky

Devin Booker has emerged into one of the top players and top scorers in the NBA. In his fifth season in the league, Booker continues to show why he’s on the path to having a successful career in the league.

Before Booker came into the NBA, he was on a loaded Kentucky team and believe it or not, and he was not even a starter on that team. But he continued to have success in his one year at Kentucky, and that translated to the NBA.

Coming off the bench at Kentucky

The 2014-15 Kentucky team had a lot of talent on that squad. The team finished the season with a 38-1 record losing in the Final Four to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament. Nine members of that Kentucky team had NBA experience or are currently playing in the league.

Coming into Kentucky, Booker was a McDonald’s All-American, and the Kentucky team had one of the top recruiting classes. Some key players returned for Kentucky like Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Wille Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, and Alex Poythress. That Kentucky team had talent up and down their roster.

Booker took on the role of coming off the bench, and he made the most of it. He averaged 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 21.5 minutes per game. He was named SEC Sixth Man of the Year and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and the All-SEC Second Team.

Booker would only spend one year at Kentucky and decided to enter the draft along with his five other teammates. During the 2015 NBA draft, Booker was selected by the Phoenix Suns at No. 13. There were questions around the league if Booker left to early and if his game would translate to the professional level. Well, they would find out soon enough.

Booker’s career in Phoenix

Former Suns’ General Manager Ryan McDonough liked what he saw in Booker. “We thought he had a lot of potential and we loved his character and work ethic, his size and his shooting ability stood out,” he said. “I think sometimes when you’re on a team with a lot of talent like Devin was at Kentucky, all that talent can do one of two things: it can mask some of your deficiencies if you do lack in some areas. I think in Devin’s case, it was the opposite of that.”

Booker did not disappoint either. In his first season with the Suns, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, averaging 13.8 points per game. The next season, Booker took his game to the next level. On March 24, 2017, he became the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game. The Suns lost to the Boston Celtics in that game, but the big story was Booker’s performance.

Currently, in his fifth year, Booker has accomplished a lot in the NBA. He continues to be a bright spot for the Suns, and they were so high on his value that they offered him a five-year $158 million maximum contract extension in 2018. Booker has worked hard to get to where he’s at, and he’s not done.

Making his first All-Star game

Booker is currently averaging 26.1 points and 6.6 assists per game this season. Due to Damian Lillard getting injured right before the All-Star break, Booker replaced him as one of the All-Star reserves. Just six years ago, Booker was coming off the bench in college, and now he’s one of the best players in the league right now.

That goes to show you that hard work does pay off, and Booker will continue to work hard every day.