There are two things that people know about the Suns unless they follow the NBA closely.
One, they did one of the most amazing/creepiest things ever.
Two, they had one of the strangest awkward situations with a player, when Eric Bledsoe tweeted that he did not want to be there, then tried to say he was at a barbershop. That situation got strange and eventually the Suns did trade him.
There is something else going on involving the Suns, and it is the play of Devin Booker. During Booker’s short career, he has already had some amazing moments, including a 70 point game last year in a loss to the Celtics.
I would say that his recent game against the 76ers would also rank up there on his list of greatest games.
Booker was on fire, he hit 17 of 32 shots including 5 of 8 from three to go along with 8 rebounds and 2 steals. He scored 46 points total and helped the Suns get a big win.
For those that have followed Booker’s play closely this season, this is nothing new. He has scored over 30 points in 10 of the 24 games.
Last season, he scored over 30 in 14 of the 78 games he played in. He is posting career highs in all of the traditional box score stats, including points, field goal attempts, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, and assists.
So what has brought on this improved play from Booker? The simple answer is that he is developing as an NBA player. He is only 21 years old, and in terms of the NBA, he is still quite young.
Only 11 players have put up over 24 points per game as a 21-year-old and Booker is on that list. The other names of that list are LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Bernard King, and two former Wildcats in Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. Booker still has room to grow.
One thing that sticks out to me this season is that Booker is shooting more three pointers. He is attempting 35% of his shots from beyond the three-point line and is making a career best 39%.
Although Booker is shooting more three-pointers, he can score in a multitude of ways and has a scorer’s mentality. He is 19th in the NBA in total free-throw attempts, and he is one of the best free throw shooters in the league at 87%.
While Booker has had a great season thus far, his team is not great. They are currently 9-16, which is bad, but much better than what some thought after their first three games.
Jay Triano, the new head coach, has improved the team somewhat, but there is only so much you can do with such a young roster. There are only two players on the team that were born before 1990 and 11 of the players have three years of experience or fewer including four rookies.
The question for Devin Booker moving forward will be can he be more than a great stats on a bad team player?
Most young teams lose in the NBA. Young players are often not enough to move the needle no matter their individual brilliance. There have obviously been exceptions to that rule like Lebron James and Shaquille O’Neal for instance.
However, I cannot help but feel that the Suns are headed in the right direction. Booker is a nice player to keep the franchise moving in a positive direction.
In addition, they have some nice young players that have shown some things this season like T.J. Warren, and they have some young guys that are going to need time, like Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, and Kentucky’s own Tyler Ulis.
If these guys are given time to grow together they could become something down the line with Booker at the center of it. While the Suns may not win much this season, Booker has become an exciting player to watch in the NBA, and he’ll remain such for a long time.