Devin Booker is quietly scoring at a historic rate. The Phoenix Suns may have found a legitimate franchise player to replace Steve Nash.
You may not be hearing much about it, but Devin Booker is making history. The second-year shooting guard has emerged as the go-to scoring option and the future face of the franchise for the Phoenix Suns.
In just his second NBA season, Booker has already made history that puts him in the same conversation as LeBron James.
Booker is currently averaging 21.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.9 3-point field goals made in 34.8 minutes per game. He’s elevated his production to a star-caliber level in recent months with a steady string of 20-point games.
With a 31-point eruption against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 4, Booker made NBA history by passing LeBron James for the longest-streak of 20-point games by a player age 20 or younger.
Any time a player is mentioned in the same breath as James, it’s fair to assume they’re doing something right.
Booker is averaging 26.6 points, 3.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.6 3-point field goals made over that 16-game span. He’s scored at least 30 points on four different occasions during that stretch, including back-to-back 39-point games.
One of those 39-point games was against the 39-11 San Antonio Spurs—a game that Phoenix won by a score of 108-105.
No matter the level of competition, Booker comes to play.
Despite this consistent stream of borderline elite production, Booker has been commonly overlooked in discussions of all manifestations. He’s rarely mentioned amongst the rising elite, just as he’s uncommonly included in discussions about the best scorers in the Association.
In less than two completed NBA seasons, however, Booker has proven to be on the fast track to legitimate stardom.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, only eight players in NBA history have recorded more 20-point games before the age of 21 than Booker: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Wiggins, Kyrie Irving, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kobe Bryant, and Cliff Robinson.
Every player on that list but Wiggins, who’s in his third NBA season, has been an All-Star.
Furthermore, only three players in NBA history have recorded more 30-point games before the age of 21 than Booker. Those players are James, Durant, and Anthony.
Booker is two 30-point games away from tying Anthony at 17, and won’t turn 21 until what projects to be the first week of the 2017-18 regular season.
What truly makes Booker special at this stage of his career is his uncanny ability to get hot and shoot without fear. The rest of his game should come together as he gains more experience, but fearlessness is something that few players possess.
That much is evident in the fact that he’s the only player in the NBA who has scored at least 27 points in a single quarter on two different occasions in 2016-17.
Booker had 27 points in the second quarter on Feb. 4 against the Bucks, and had 29 points in the fourth quarter on Jan. 12 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Booker is still a work in progress who must improve his efficiency on offense and consistency on defense. True as that may be, he’s well on his way to achieving star status and deserves to be mentioned amongst the most promising young players in the NBA.
If he hasn’t yet captured your attention, then it’s only a matter of time before he does.
Devin Booker is on the rise and the Phoenix Suns could soon follow his lead.