Devin Booker is one of the most talented basketball players ever to play for the Suns.
Let’s get that out of the way right now. That’s actually not very controversial, in my eyes. Even those who analyze this game and don’t give Booker much credit for his gaudy production or dazzling stat lines would say so. Anyone who has the shooting touch and basketball IQ that Booker possesses deserves a ton of respect.
Unfortunately for Booker, that respect just hasn’t come on All-Star ballots. That’s not entirely his fault — his brand or whatever you want to call it isn’t as big as others’ because the Suns have been bad and because they are never on national TV. His team also loses a lot.
Booker has never had a positive individual net rating. That means that over the course of his four full seasons in the NBA, the Suns were never good solely because Booker stepped onto the floor. That’s understandable. Other indicators show the team is better when he plays. That’s no secret.
Still, in order to earn national recognition, you have to give people a reason to pay attention. The biggest reason people will watch your team is if you win a lot of basketball games. Three is not a lot of wins, but the Suns are 3-2 for the first time since 2015. If they were to keep at that slightly-better-than-.500 clip from now until February, rest assured casual fans as well as the players and coaches who vote for All-Stars will take note.
Through five games, Booker’s numbers are also some of the best of his career. The fifth-year guard is scoring 24.4 points per game on .474/.419/.864 shooting. Those of us nerds who wanted to see him break a 60.0 true shooting percentage are really feeling this moment. He’s at 58.3, just behind his 2018-19 mark.
Booker is also dishing six assists per game and gradually cutting down his turnover rate. The young star is shooting 70 percent at the rim, an elite rate for NBA guards and by far the most efficient of his career. A full 10 percent fewer of Booker’s attempts have come from midrange this year, meaning we can expect his shot chart to propel him to greater efficiency than before.
The floor is spread, everyone on the team is a capable and willing passer, and Booker is reaping the benefits. Most importantly, the Suns are winning, and people actually seem to care about this team now. We’ve been waiting to see when the good stats, bad team narrative might flip for Booker, and the future is now. Maybe.
There’s a long way to go until February, but this is the type of start Booker needed to finally break through to the All-Star team.