When Eric Bledsoe tore his meniscus on Christmas Day, the Suns’ season seemed to be a wash. When Bledsoe’s door closed on the 2016 season, a door of opportunity opened for Devin Booker.
The rookie became the youngest player to ever start for the Phoenix Suns at only 19 years old. He’s been nothing short of spectacular, averaging 15.4 points per game as a starter, scoring a career-high 32 points earlier this week.
Booker is an above 40% shooter as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, per Synergy Sports. He’s been an absolute terror in transition as well, blurring past defenders lethargically retreating from one end of the floor to another. “It’s a combination of strength and feel that he’s been better at doing this year,” GM Pat Connelly says. “It’s been a nice development. In time we thought it would come.”
The praise from the GM is great for job security. It’s also nice hearing positivity from the media, especially an outlet as respected as Sports Illustrated, but nothing is quite like receiving praise from the players you grew up watching in the NBA.
His quick start has turned heads across the league. “Klay said, ‘Man, it feels like I’m looking in a mirror,’” Booker says. This summer, he bumped into Rip Hamilton, a childhood paragon for moving off the ball. “Rip was like, ‘I like your game,’” Booker says. “You expect them to watch basketball but not to watch you and actually like your game when you’ve been watching them your whole life. KD said [during a game], ‘What’s up, Book?’ I don’t know how he knew everybody calls me Book.”
With the all-star break looming, Booker will have the second half of the season to prove he’s right where he belongs.
You should DEFINITELY read the Sports Illustrated article that dives into Booker’s past, showing how he grew from watching his father play in Italy, to earning his first start at Kentucky.