After Devin Booker became a national name following his historic 70-point outing against Boston in 2017, many knew he was on the fast track to stardom. Booker told me back in September, 2017 that Kobe Bryant sent him a YouTube clip over Instagram direct message that compared their games. At the time, Booker said he would love to have Bryant be a mentor to him.
“Getting advice from him would be great,” Booker said.
The Bryant workout never came to be, but fast-forward two years and Booker is close to becoming an offensive juggernaut. Not only is he mastering the art of drawing contact, but he’s an extremely fast learner. Former Suns assistant Cody Toppert said on Locked On Suns earlier this week that Booker’s learning curve is shockingly short.
One of Booker’s other basketball idols, Dwyane Wade, just wrapped up his final season on his “Last Dance” tour. During the Suns’ final matchup against the Heat, which took place in Miami, Wade and Booker exchanged jerseys. The future NBA Hall of Famer also left a message on it for the Suns’ 22-year-old star to remember.
“Anything you need I’m here,” Wade wrote. “Keep going & keep working.”
Well, Booker seems to be taking Wade’s advice immediately as he’s now been spotted working out with the legendary combo guard this week.
When Dwyane Wade gifted Devin Booker one of his game worn jerseys after they played last season, he wrote the following quote on it: "Anything you need I'm here. Keep going & keep working."— Evan Sidery (@esidery) August 2, 2019
It looks like Booker is learning some tricks of the trade from Wade this offseason. pic.twitter.com/XIYgZibPcw
During Wade’s prime years (age 24-28), he averaged 27.2 points per game while also being a menace on both ends of the floor. Wade is one of the best guard defenders in league history accumulating 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks for his median output over his 16-year career.
If Booker is able to reach Wade’s offensive production while also rising from well below-average to at least competent defensively, he’s well on his way to becoming an All-NBA caliber player in short order.
Learning from one of the game’s greats will hopefully elevate Booker’s game to an even higher level entering into his 5-year, $158 million max extension.
For fun, let’s compare Booker and Wade’s per-36 minute numbers through their first four seasons side-by-side (via Basketball-Reference.com):
Booker - 23.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 16.9 FGA; 55.3 TS%, 32.1 FTR, 29.0 USG%
Wade - 22.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 17.0 FGA; 56.6 TS%, 53.7 FTR, 30.8 USG%
“I’ve been watching him since I was six years old. He won his first championship when I was 10,” Booker said back in February about Wade. “The things I would do to meet D-Wade as a kid, just growing up a fan and watching every playoff game. How he turned Miami to Wade County. It’s unbelievable, just a global icon who I have the upmost respect for. He’s impacted this game in more ways than anybody could ever imagine.”