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Devin Booker hasn’t been himself yet, and that’s just fine

Once Devin Booker returns to form, it’s over for the league if the rest of the Suns team holds up its current pace.

LA Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Devin Booker is held to an almost unfair level of lofty expectations by Suns fans at times, so any time he’s in a “slump” it’s usually better than an average player’s hot stretch from a statistic perspective.

The Phoenix Suns are 6-2 and sit atop the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers, so the voices have been fairly quiet on Booker’s “struggles” to this point. As long as they win, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter how many points per game he is scoring or how many shots he’s taking. The turnovers aren’t ideal though, and we’ll dive into that a bit more along with some other areas he has regressed in during this very early season.

The Numbers

The fact that his field goal percentage is nearly identical goes to show he can still get buckets efficiently, as he’s shooting an absurd 57.0% on two point field goals. His 3 point percent is slightly down and the main reason for the 2.2 percent drop in True Shooting Percentage is due to his abysmal (by his standards) 77.3 percent free-throw shooting.

He is still making ridiculous shots like this:

The Playmaking

Booker’s playmaking numbers are down a bit for a variety of reasons, with the most obvious being him and Chris Paul still looking to form chemistry and comfortably in the backcourt. You can tell they are gradually improving in this regard, but it’s apparent that they are still feeling each other out. Expect things to click around game 20 or so.

His usage rate isn’t down a whole lot, just one percentage point lower at 29.1% from his 30.0% a season ago. It’s the astounding 6 percent increase in turnover percentage and 9.5 percent dip in his assist percentage that have really impacted his assist totals. By cutting down on turnovers (4.8 per game) the assist totals will increase naturally as he’s made some ambitious (and careless) passes that are ultimately correctable.

His potential assists per-game sits at 8.9 which is 2nd on the team to Chris Paul, yet 4.1 less per-game than his average of 13.0 last season, meaning he’s giving himself less assists opportunities by over 4 plays per game.

Fun fact: Chris Paul is third the NBA in potential assists behind only Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic.

The Free Throws

I’m not very concerned about this, though it is impacting his total numbers given he isn’t shooting like his usual automatic self from the charity stripe. A lot of it is a mental game when shooting free throws, and once he regains his rhythm and confidence he will snap out of this odd funk he’s in. As I said, there isn’t much to see here, just a cold stretch that happens to even the elite shooters in the league once in a while.

I’d also like to see him get to the line more frequently, as he’s down from 7.3 attempts per-game to just 5.5. The more trips he makes, the sooner he will regain his form.

The Turnovers

This is the part of his game that is sticking out like sore thumb the most. A lot of these are unforced errors or him jumping in the air before passing the ball which will lead to some wild over-the-head passes that land in the 2nd row of the stands. I’m not overly concerned here, as there will be some kinks to iron out in the offense from a chemistry and spacing standpoint, so once they get more comfortable together as a unit it should improve his reads.

This mini road trip with Detroit, Indiana and Washington lined up will be a great opportunity for him to get back in a groove. The Wizards are 29th in defensive rating and the Pistons are 26th. Indiana is 9th overall in defensive rating though, and a sound defensive team that should present some issues for him in the 2nd of a back-to-back. At the end of the day, all that matters is stacking the wins, Booker will be fine. Once he really wakes up, watch out.

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