In the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker crossed the 10,000 point milestone of his young career. At just barely 25 years old, he became the 7th youngest ever to hit that mark.
“Honestly, this one means a lot,” Booker said after the game. “I think 10k is better than the five, six, seven. I feel like it’s a real milestone that I hit.”
Booker was drafted 13th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, just ahead of teammate Cameron Payne and former teammate Kelly Oubre Jr., and a few picks behind teammate Frank Kaminsky. All of those other players are best defined as role players, while Booker is defined as a star.
In six seasons since being drafted a little before his 19th birthday, Booker has become a two-time All-Star with career averages of 23 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.
That includes a rookie season where he barely played until injuries decimated the club, giving Booker a chance to show he could be a lot more than the spot-up shooter he’d been in one year at Kentucky.
“If (Jeff) Hornacek put me in a little bit more,” Booker joked. “I should be at about 12 (thousand points) right now.”
Backing up the two-headed point guard tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight alongside veteran Gerald Green, Booker only played 14 minutes per game his first two months in the league, averaging 6 points per game over 32 games (2 starts, 6 DNPs) despite making 59% of his threes. He was the team’s 9th leading scorer, with 155 total points in 26 games played.
I do remember, in November of that season while Booker was barely seeing playing time, Hornacek telling me Booker had the talent to be an All-Star sometime soon. He made the comment after yet another press conference where we pressed him on why the young kid wasn’t playing more. On the record, Hornacek touted the talent of Bledsoe and Knight (who were each playing 34+ minutes a night at a highly productive level), saying Booker’s turn would come.
Then injuries and underperformance boiled over. On December 28, Booker entered the starting lineup and never looked back.
“I’m messing around,” Booker said with the smile of the 12k comment. “But truly grateful to be in a position at a young age to play with Coach Hornacek, Earl (Watson), Jay Triano, Igor (Kokoškov), and now Coach Monty (Williams). So, a lot of praise to those guys for trusting a young kid and letting me play through mistakes as a youngin, because everybody doesn’t get that opportunity. I got to be thrown in the fire, and even my vets, my teammates, passing the ball to an 18-year-old, I know that’s not easy to do and it’s not common in the NBA. I give thanks to all my teammates, all my coaches that have put me in a situation to be able to make this come.”
Booker is the 7th youngest player ever to reach the 10k milestone.
At a mere 15 days later than Giannis, he would have been 6th fastest but for all the lost games and lost time of the pandemic, including a four-month stop to the season in 2020.
To his comment on 12k, let’s do the math.
Conversatively assume he averaged 20 points his first 32 games of his career — that’s another 565 points (720 - 115 actually scored). Now let’s add the lost 10 games in 2019-20 at 26.6 ppg = 266 points. And 10 more in 2020-21 at 25.6 ppg = 256 points. All tolled, that’s another 1,087 points he could have scored by now, which would have put him in the top 5.
But hey, just like tying your shoes or riding a bike: it’s about meeting the milestone, not how fast you met it right?