We’ve witnessed the first explosion onto the national scene for Devin Booker two years ago when he went for 70 points in Boston. Then, Booker went off for 59 points in Utah on Monday. The exclamation point to Booker arriving on the stage of other great scorers around the Association.
Well, Booker is making sure he’s firmly supplanted in the conversation amongst other elite players after tonight’s outing. Booker finished with 50 points on 19-of-29 shooting, which places him alongside James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson as players over the last 25 years to score 50 in consecutive games (via Basketball-Reference).
Unfortunately, it happened once more in a losing effort for the Suns. However, with the season wrapping down, we’re going to focus on Booker’s historic terror because it’s absolutely warranted.
Shoutout to Sports Illustrated for inexplicably saying earlier today there might still be a debate whether Booker is actually good at basketball or not. Even the Suns’ Twitter account got in on the fun of SI seemingly admitting they don’t pay attention to all 30 NBA teams.
Them: iS dEvIn BoOkEr aCtUaLlY gOoD aT bAsKeTbaLl?!?!— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 28, 2019
In the month of March, Booker now has four games eclipsing 40-plus points. I repeat, this is already Booker’s fourth instance going over the 40-point mark this month. The Suns’ star is now tied atop that leaderboard with an MVP candidate in Harden. Incredible, and it speaks to just how special he is becoming right before our eyes at only 22 years old.
“Devin Booker is Devin Booker,” Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said postgame. “As a coach, as somebody who cares about him, I’m happy for his numbers. That’s what he does, we know that. But also my angle is the final score, that number is (the) priority all the time. But I’m happy for Booker. Not surprised at all. I don’t think anybody in the arena, whoever watched the game is surprised. He didn’t force anything, tried to find teammates, make the simple play and make the tough plays.”
Booker not only has taken his playmaking to another level, but, somehow, he’s becoming an even better scorer at rapid rates. He’s accelerating his growth across nearly all box score categories while also seeing his all-around efficiency rise.
It’s the sign of the supremely bright future ahead for Booker, but also the Suns if their front office realizes how to properly build a sustainable winner around him. The pieces are starting to fall into place with additions like Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre Jr., but there’s still work to be done before Phoenix can take that leap from rebuilding to contending.
Following the game, Booker pointed to health as the main factor to his recent stretch where he’s scorching all competition in front of him. Booker has been battling various injuries to his hamstring, toe and finger dating back to training camp — and this seems like the first true stretch of him performing at 100 percent during his fourth season.
Booker has played in a season-high 19 straight games, which has led to him averaging 30.3 points while carrying a well above-average 59.3 true shooting percentage. Honestly, those are really Harden-esque numbers.
“Just health. I’ve been asking for it all season. Just to be 100% healthy,” Booker said after his second straight 50-point game. “As an athlete, that’s when you’re at your best ability. When you’re going through games and you don’t want to make certain move or this certain movement because you’re scared of what is going to happen. It’s a whole different game. I have a free mind out there, like I said, anything I can possibly do to help this team win and try to lead by example.”
On Wednesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Booker continued to prove the doubters outside of Phoenix wrong. One thing is for sure: National media, it’s time to put some respect on Devin Booker’s name.
Instead of these games ended in losing efforts, they seem on the doorstep of at least turning things around soon enough behind Booker’s continued brilliance.
“It’s a blessing,” Booker said of being the youngest player in NBA history to have back-to-back 50 point games. “It’s an honor, I say it every day, to lace it up and play a sport that I love. Every time I’m out there, I’m trying to find ways to get better and find out ways to get wins for this team. I think right now, it’s time for me to be more aggressive, being down a couple men. Teammates helping me, setting good screens. Jamal (Crawford) made a couple tremendous passes today that got me easy buckets so it was a team effort. Fell short, but a lot better fight today than we did have last game.”