The Phoenix Suns have been irrelevant in the NBA since the departures of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. When they drafted Devin Booker, that was the best selection they have had in years. He is becoming a star in the this league.
Since Booker came into the league, he has made a steady climb into being a dynamic scorer. At the University of Kentucky, he appeared to be nothing more than shooter. John Calipari, Wildcats head coach, admitted that he held Booker back. He regretted not playing him more minutes.
In Devin’s second years, he had a breakout season and averaged 22 points per game and 36 percent from downtown. His most impressive moment was scoring a career-high 70 points against the Boston Celtics. At age 20 no less, that the third most points scored in a game and the most since Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points.
Besides the point differential, what separates Kobe’s accomplishment and Booker’s is the outcome of the game. Despite Devin’s strong effort, the Suns were blown out by the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, former Celtics guard, didn’t appreciate the performance.
Thomas felt they were chasing numbers when the game was out of reach. “It was weird what they were doing. They kept fouling even when we were up by 15 points.”
Someone like Thomas could conclude that the points scored were inflated a little bit. When the game is nearly over and buying more time so Booker could increase his total. Nevertheless, scoring 70 points at age 20 is impressive.
This past season, Booker took his game to another level and averaged career highs across the board. He averaged 24 points, 4.5 rebounds, and nearly 5 assists. Despite his game getting better, the team’s losses continued to pile up. Once again, they finished with the worst record and earned the number one overall pick.
This offseason, the Suns were quiet in free agency. The biggest splash they made was stealing Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets. Then they signed Devin to a 5-year extension worth $158 million. He seemed more than happy to share with the world how proud he was.
The Suns must be breathing a sigh of relief. A few months ago, it seemed like Booker was fed up with losing. He didn’t want to fall short of the playoffs anymore. Tracy McGrady weighed in on the topic.
Despite Booker’s past comments, he seems willing to help the franchise develop. Can the Suns keep him happy and avoid trade demands? While that question may go unanswered, Booker appears to be the face of the franchise for now.