While the meta-world of NBA followers continues its debate over whether Phoenix Suns’ shooting guard Devin Booker is even a good NBA player yet, let alone a future All-Star, yet another of the league’s top players has no doubts.
Kevin Durant on Booker
“I love Devin Booker, man,” Durant told Bill Simmons on a podcast this week. “He love the game and he like a dog. He’ll talk (expletive). He’ll, like, rough you up. He’ll get up into you. You better watch out for that boy because he is nice. He next — I’m telling you.”
Receiving praise from a multi-time NBA All-Star is nothing new for Booker, who is still just 20 years old and barely two seasons into his NBA career. Booker played his entire rookie season at 19 years old, and his second season at 20.
Booker spent his rookie season placing himself amongst the elite handful of teenage phenoms in league history, then spent his sophomore season placing himself among the best-ever under-21 scorers in league history.
Lest you forget, here are some of the statistical highlights from just last season:
- At 20 years, 145 days old at the time of his 70-point game, DEVIN BOOKER became the youngest player to ever record a 70-point game—in fact, he also became the youngest to record a 60-point game and third-youngest to record a 50-point game (Brandon Jennings, LeBron James). The previous youngest to score 60 was Jerry West (63 points on Jan. 17, 1962) with an age over three years older than Booker at 23 years, 234 days. The previous youngest to score 70 was David Thompson (73 points on April 9, 1978) also with an age over three years older than Booker at 23 years, 270 days.
- With 20 free throws made in the second half at Boston on March 24, DEVIN BOOKER tied the NBA record for most free throws made in one half. He matched the record of 20 initially set by Michael Jordan in the second half at Miami on Dec. 30, 1992.
- Among guards, the 70-point outing was the third-highest in NBA history. The top four scoring games by guards are now: Kobe Bryant (81 vs. Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006); David Thompson (73 at Detroit on April 9, 1978); DEVIN BOOKER (70 at Boston on March 24, 2017); Michael Jordan (69 at Cleveland on March 28, 1990). The four guards included here represent a lineage of inspiration as Jordan has said he idolized Thompson, Bryant has said he idolized Jordan, and Booker has said he idolized Bryant.
- With 246 career made three-pointers, DEVIN BOOKER has the most before turning 21 in NBA history (prev. Bradley Beal, 229).
- With six quarters of 20+ points this season, DEVIN BOOKER ranks 1st in the NBA.
- DEVIN BOOKER followed up his then career-high 38 points at New Orleans on Nov. 4 with a new career-high 39 points at Los Angeles on Nov. 6 to become the youngest player in NBA history to record back-to-back games with at least 38 points. Booker, doing so at 20 years, 5 and 7 days old, accomplished the feat over 300 days younger than the previous holder, Bernard King, who scored 39 then 41 points in two straight for the New Jersey Netsfrom Nov. 2-4, 1977, at ages of 20 years, 333 and 335 days. Booker then scored 39 in back-to-back games on Jan. 12 and 14 at 20 years, 74 and 76 days old to also become the youngest player in NBA history to record back-to-back games with at least 39 points, besting the same stretch by King (Basketball-Reference).
- DEVIN BOOKER became the youngest player in NBA history to score 20+ points in at least 16 straight games, reaching 16 at 20 years, 97 days old. His streak scoring 20+ was one of the longest by any first- or second-year player since the merger (Basketball-Reference)
- Booker also became one of only FIVE players in their age-20 season to average 22+ points per game, along with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal and Kyrie Irving.
- Taking age out of the equation, Booker was the only player in the entire league with more than one game-winning buzzer beater during the 2017-18 season (March 11 at Dallas; Feb. 3 at Sacramento)
Over the past two years, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler all went out of their way to comment on Booker’s future.
Dwyane Wade on Booker
"I was impressed with him the first time we played him, and I'm very impressed tonight... If he continues taking steps, he's going to be very, very good," Wade said. "I like him. I like him a lot."
—Dwyane Wade, postgame
LeBron James on Booker
“If it’s someone who is under the radar right now that I believe is going to be a really, really, really good, all-star player in the league – it’s Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns.”
—LeBron James, on Uninterrupted podcast
Klay Thompson on Booker
“He’s gonna be one of the best two guards in this league one day,” Thompson said. “He’s such a good shooter but he’s got a great floor game as well... He’s got a very high ceiling. It still baffles me he’s only 19 right? That’s unbelievable, man.”
—Klay Thompson, after a Team USA scrimmage
Jimmy Butler on Booker
"I'll tell you one player I do like,” Butler said. “Devin Booker. I like that kid. He's young, he can really shoot it. He can get to the rim. He can play."
—Jimmy Butler, on a Ringer podcast
You can argue whether Devin Booker’s future looks like a Kevin Martin type or a future multi-time All-Star considered one of the best in the game.
But it appears that the NBA’s best players already know what’s in store for Booker.
Nearly all of these quotes came out during general NBA podcasts where the player was asked to name a young, under-the-radar player who has a bright future. They each came up with Booker.
Bored on a Saturday in late August? Watch this cool documentary on Booker...