Devin Booker is quickly becoming the most exciting draft pick for the Phoenix Suns since Amare Stoudemire in 2002. But even Amare didn't have a 30+ point game so early in his career.
Devin Booker (19 yrs, 81 days) is the 3rd-youngest player ever to have a 30-point game. He joins LeBron James & Kevin Durant. #SunsVsPacers— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) January 20, 2016
That's some lofty company for the young sharpshooter!
Kevin Durant and LeBron James, both eventual league MVPs, is a short list of players who have exceeded that point total so young.
But some of that is simply due to the age at which you entered the NBA. Remember that Brandon Jennings, as a 20 year old rookie, scored a whopping 55 points and had two other 30-point games as a rookie. Jennings never came close to that feat again.
So we are not saying Devin Booker will be a future league MVP candidate. Or that he will be a future All-Star based solely on the first 40 games of his career.
But at least he's exciting, and definitely the most interesting Suns rookie in more than a decade. His 32 points is the highest scoring game so far for any rookie of the 2015 NBA Draft class.
"He's fantastic," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said a week ago when the Suns played them in Indiana.
This week, the Pacers geared some schemes after him to try him down but he still played great. "We threw some different guys on him, tried to push our bigs up on him more but he had a special game," Vogel said of Booker's 32 points, including 8 in the final frame when the game was in the balance.
Coach Hornacek couldn't stop gushing about Booker in postgame, hinting at more and more of Booker as the season progresses even though he's the youngest player in the entire league.
"He's got a good knowledge of the game," Hornacek said. "We feel we can put the ball in his hands. He's going to have to make plays for us. He can come off those high pick-n-rolls, and he's one of the guys who has the size. It's great for us that we can now put the ball in someone else's hands and maybe make some plays."
Amare Stoudemire was 20 years old during his rookie year when he scored 38 huge points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a loss. Amare had just the one 30-point game that year and 10 other 20+ point games during that rookie season. Lowering the bar just a bit more, Amare had a whopping 38 games with 15+ points his rookie year (2002-2003), and 59 games where he scored 10+ points.
Booker does not have the same upside as freak athlete and power forward Amare Stoudemire, who was named to 6 All-Star games and would have made at least one other if he hadn't had knee issues.
But Booker is setting records anyway, and just might be hinting at a ceiling that's higher than anyone the Suns have drafted for themselves since STAT.