The end of the Phoenix Suns’ regular season is in sight. We know that on the other side of the next 18 games is the postseason, a place we have not seen since Devin Booker was a 14 year-old kid. Booker joined this team and organization with hopes of getting making them relevant once again. It has been a long road for Booker to travel to reach his first postseason game with numerous speed bumps along the way.
And numerous milestones as well.
Devin Booker is rapidly cementing himself as one of the greatest players in the history of the Phoenix Suns. His scoring ability is smooth and efficient. His jumper is clean. His ability to post up players and exploit them in the post is rare for a guard his size. He makes tough shots look easy.
Throughout his time in Phoenix has abused the record books. The list of accolades continues to grow each passing performance:
- The youngest player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game.
- The youngest player in NBA history with consecutive 50-point games.
- The third-youngest player in NBA history to score 4,000 career points behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
- His 91 career 30-point games are second only to Michael Jordan for the most by a guard prior to turning 24-years-old in NBA history.
- 106 30-point games, the most in Suns history (Walter Davis is #2 with 90).
- He is #11 on the Suns career points list.
But there is one record he has yet to eclipse: the single season points-per game title.
Booker has come close before to setting the record for points-per-game for the Phoenix Suns. In 2018-19 he ended the season with 26.56 points. He followed it up by scoring 26.61 points last season, the second highest per-game average in Suns history.
He was primed this year to finally break the 30+ year-old record.
The production we saw in the Orlando Bubble (30.5 points on 50.3/31.3/94.0 splits) at the end of the 2019-20 season did not carry over into the new campaign. Booker began the season trying to understand where he fit in the new Suns offense. The acquisition of Chris Paul meant the usage rate for Booker would decrease — which I am sure he embraced with open arms.
Through his first 14 games of the season he averaged 22.9 points-per-game on 47.3/34.1/82.4 splits. Booker possessed the ability and capacity to increase these numbers, but would he allow himself the chance to make up scoring in an effort to make a run at the Suns single season record?
Then February happened.
En route to his first ever Player of the Week Award (which he won twice in the month) and Player of the Month Award, Devin Booker jumped his scoring average from 22.9 points to 25.5. He went for 27.9 points in the month of February and his efficiency numbers looked more aligned with our expectations at 52.3/39.5/85.2.
"The game is about winning. That drives a lot of the residual stuff that you can potentially enjoy. That's what we're about. That's what he's about."— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 3, 2021
Monty Williams on Devin Booker winning Western Conference Player of the month honors for February. #Suns https://t.co/i5A1eOMS0i pic.twitter.com/2pc8gRWPfE
The March/April onslaught of Booker’s performances (26.8 points, 48.4/34.5/88.9) has aligned with the most successful stretch of his career relative to team success. Since March 1, Phoenix is 16-4. Devin continues to excel and contribute to a winning cause. He has figured out how and when to be the most effective version of himself in an effort to assist his team gain ticks in the win column.
So what will it take for Devin to hoist the imaginary trophy for most points-per-game in a Phoenix Suns season? Let’s start with a historical look at when the benchmarks were set. Here is the history of the highest per-game scoring average in Phoenix Suns’ history:
- Gail Goodrich: 23.8 points (1968-69)
- Connie Hawkins: 24.6 points (1969-70)
- Charlie Scott: 25.3 points (1972-73)
- Charlie Scott: 25.4 points (1973-74)
- Tom Chambers: 25.7 points (1988-89)
- Tom Chambers: 27.2 points (1989-90)
The ’89-’90 season saw Tom Chambers set the record for points in a season at 2,201 points. Knowing that this season is 72 games long, Booker will not have a chance to hit that mark. He does, however, still stand a chance in catching and surpassing TC’s per-game average of 27.2 (27.172 if you want to get all decimally about it).
What will it take for Devin Booker’s name to be added to the list?
Through the first 54 games of the 2020-21 season, Devin Booker has played in 50 of them. He has tallied a total of 1,286 points. That brings his current average this year to 25.7 points-per-game.
If Devin Booker plays in the final 18 games of the season (for a total of 68 games played) he will need to score a total 1,849 points to average 27.176 points. Essentially he will need to average 31.3 points-per game for the remainder of the season to have a shot at surpassing the mark.
Is this possible? Of course. Do not doubt the abilities of one Devin Armani Booker when it comes to putting the ball into the hoop. He is leveling up before our eyes each night as he continues to learn how to be the star on a winning basketball team.
I do like the chances of Booker setting the scoring average rather the Chris Paul setting the Suns’ assists record (needs to average 20.6 per-game to pass Kevin Johnson’s 1988-89 record of 12.2) or Deandre Ayton setting the rebounding record (needs 15.1 per-game to pass Paul Silas’ 1970-71 record of 12.5).
Is it probable? Given the level of the remaining competition coupled with the way the Suns play basketball as a team to win, I would say it is unlikely. The Suns do have 11 of their remaining games on the road, however, and Booker averages more points on the road (23.8) than at home (22.1) in his career.
The number is set. Time to sit back and watch Booker make a run at it.