If the Phoenix Suns want to target shooting with the 13th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft they got to see one of their top options during Monday's workout at U.S. Airways Center.
It was Kentucky two-guard Devin Booker's chance to impress the Suns brass.
"I think it's (three-point shooting) a huge part of the game in the NBA right now," said Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough. I believe the Cavs and Warriors are the top two teams in the playoffs in terms of threes attempted and threes made. I feel over the past couple years we shot the ball well the first year, up until midway through this year we shot it ok and really tailed off at the end of the season. That's a need for us - now it doesn't mean we'll necessarily address it just by the draft, we'll look at addressing in it in free agency and perhaps by a trade as well. It's important, for sure."
Pre All-Star break the Suns had the ninth best three-point percentage in the NBA on the fifth most attempts, while post All-Star break they ranked 30th in percentage and only 17th in attempts.
In addition to helping reverse those trends to Phoenix's earlier success, Booker could help them in the catch and shoot category. The Suns shot 35.7% on catch & shoot threes this past season, which ranked 19th across the league. The 18-year-old knocked 41% of his shots from deep overall and had an insanely high 1.83 points per possession on catch and shoot opportunities per Synergy Sports via draftexpress.com (58.3 eFG% accounting for twos and threes thanks to CBSsports.com's Sam Vecenie for that stat).
There might not be a better coach in the NBA to identify what to look for in a pure shooter than Jeff Hornacek.
"Consistency. Guys that are natural shooters are shooting the same way," explained Hornacek. "Watching footwork, see if they're getting themselves prepared to shoot. A lot of the times in spot shooting it's easy. When they're in a scrimmage or making a move can they get their feet in proper position so they're not falling sideways and stuff like that. You see the guys stroke and this guy is pretty good."
Booker also has the valuable trait of self-awareness. He knows what he's good at and isn't going to try to do too much. During his freshman season he only turned the ball over 1.8 times per 40 minutes.
"Cause of the way I play I make it more simple than it has to be," stated Booker. "I keep it simple, I don't do too much, but I can do those things. I feel like I'm a great athlete and I showed that a little bit. I'm gonna keep working on my game, I always know I have things to work on."
In his single season with the Wildcats at times Booker did show an ability to do more. According to hoop-math.com, he took 20.6% of his shots at the rim and made 72.9%. 55.8% of those makes were assisted on.
"I think it's both," McDonough said when asked if Booker's high-percentage at the rim was due to getting easy looks or if he had the ability to create for himself. "They obviously had a lot of offensive weapons, but he does have a nice natural touch. Some of the guys you have to tweak things about their form, their mechanics or the release point -- he's one you look at and you don't have to do a whole lot with that. Like all these guys, get it a little quicker, get him used to shooting over length, but some guys have that natural touch and feel for putting the ball in the basket and it looks like he has it."
The biggest strength of the current crop of Suns guards, assuming Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin are all back, is initiating offense. By adding someone like Booker it would give them the opportunity to diversify the skill set of the backcourt a bit. It's pretty obvious Booker's style of play fits what the Suns need, it's just a question of whether they consider him the top talent available at 13.
We'll find out the answer on June 25th.