Considering he sat out six games with a DNP-CD, played less than 10 minutes in nine others and didn't start a game until nearly two months into his rookie season, Phoenix Suns rookie Devin Booker has done pretty well for himself.
Booker is now the 4th youngest in NBA history - behind only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant - to reach 1,000 points.
Of the four players, Booker reached 1,000 points in the third fewest games.
- James was 19 and 41 days old; took 49 games
- Durant was 19 and 146 days old; took 52 games
- Bryant was 19 and 147 days old; took 97 games
- Booker is 19 and 162 days old; took 74 games
Among those players, Booker has the highest Effective FG% (counting extra for threes) at 48.4%, and the second-highest True Shooting % (which factors in both threes and free throws) at 53.8%.
Of the three other players mentioned above, Booker's rookie start most resembled Bryant's in that both Bryant and Booker had to work themselves in their team's rotation. Both entered a competitive situation with a team fighting for a playoff chance. Bryant's team remained very good, while Booker's went quickly off the rails. Durant and James were starters on awful teams from day one.
Since being inserted permanently into the starting lineup on December 28 at the tender age of 19 yrs and 59 days old, Booker is second in scoring among all rookies (17.9 per game). He's not a one-trick pony either. He is also third in assists (3.6 per game) among all rookies since that time as well.
Removing age from the equation, Booker's 1,016 points this season ranks 4th among all rookies this season. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and D'Angelo Russell - three of the top four picks - have outscored Booker, but mostly because of opportunity. Jahlil Okafor is 5th in scoring, despite missing the last 20 games to injury. All of those players are just a bit older than Booker, but not by much. None of them can legally purchase alcohol or gamble in Vegas yet.
In the larger scheme, Booker should be named to the 2015-16 All-Rookie team and has a bright future in the NBA regardless of his age. He's the first rookie in three years, at any age, to record 5+ games of 30 or more points (Damian Lillard, 2012-13). He's 2nd in eFG% and 3rd in TS% among all rookies who have played 25+ minutes per game this year.
But in the microcosm of ageism, Booker is showing that he's more polished and more ready for the rigors of the NBA at a younger age than nearly any 19 year old in league history.
We're not saying Booker will be an all-time great. Far from it. He's not a freak athlete like LeBron James. He doesn't have the incredible length of Kevin Durant or the all-time great talent of Kobe Bryant.
But he's got something that very few 19 year olds have ever had. He's got the moxie and work ethic to continue to get better and better. In his rookie year, he's expanded his pure shooting game to include playmaking, dribble-drives and open court finishes that he never showed in college. All while trying to figure out how to play twice as many games as he's ever played in his life.
I can't wait to see how good this kid gets.