On Wednesday night, Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker became the 4th youngest NBA player ever to score 11,000 points, only a couple months later in life than Book’s idol, Kobe Bryant.
Only LeBron James (the league’s second-highest scorer all time), Kobe Bryant (league’s fourth-highest scorer all time) and Kevin Durant got their 11k at a younger age.
“Means so much,” Booker says. “These are my favorite players ever, growing up. To be next to their names in any category... those are the guys that came in as young studs to fulfill what everybody thought they couldn’t throughout their whole career. Even watching LeBron (37 years old) and KD (33) still doing that at this age is quite incredible. Those guys are a big inspiration to me.”
The @Suns Devin Booker scored 28 points in a win over the Timberwolves, reaching 11,000 career points in the process.— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) March 24, 2022
He's the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to reach that mark (age in years-days):
23-324 LeBron James
24-104 Kevin Durant
25-099 Kobe Bryant
25-144 Booker pic.twitter.com/cilM1YoPzy
Devin Booker came into the league just before his 19th birthday, an advantage on these ‘youngest ever’ lists to be sure. Other top all-time scorers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (3rd) and Michael Jordan (5th) made their NBA debuts at a later age.
But don’t discount Booker’s feat too much. Back then, a player was allowed to enter the NBA at 18 years old. Kobe Bryant was still 17 when his name was called on draft night in 1996 and played his whole rookie year at age 18. These days, a player has to be a year removed from high school graduation and turn 19 by the of the calendar year they are drafted.
Can Book join All-Time Greats?
To put this in perspective, Booker has reached 11,000 points in his 7th year. Kobe Bryant ended up playing 20 years in the NBA, scoring more than 33k points before he retired.
Here’s the Top 10 All-Time scorers.
Now, I’ll add their age when they entered the league, and the number of seasons they played:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Age 22 — 20 seasons
- LeBron James — Age 19 — 19 seasons ... and still going
- Karl Malone — Age 22 — 19 seasons
- Kobe Bryant — Age 18 — 20 seasons
- Michael Jordan — Age 21 — 15 seasons
- Dirk Nowitzki — Age 20 — 21 seasons
- Wilt Chamberlain — Age 23 — 15 seasons
- Shaquille O’Neal — Age 20 — 19 seasons
- Carmelo Anthony — Age 19 — 19 seasons ... and still going
- Moses Malone — Age 19 — 21 seasons
The key for 8 of the top 10 All-Time scorers is longevity, with 19 or more seasons for all of them. Big props to MJ and Wilt for their place on this list at 25% fewer years in the league!
If he can stay healthy, Booker could play 20 years in the league into his late 30s. And if that happens, he’s on track to finish his career as a Top 5 All-Time scorer.
Of course, other active players could bypass or beat Book up the charts on the All-Time lists. Among active players, we’ve got.
22. Kevin Durant — Came in at age 19 — played 14 seasons — scored 25,248 points — on track to finish top-5 all time if he plays 6+ more seasons
29. James Harden — Age 20 — 13 seasons — 23,305 points — could finish top-5 all time if he plays 7+ more seasons
32. Russell Westbrook — Age 20 — 14 seasons — 23,164 points — could finish inside top-10 all time if he plays 7+ more seasons
The next still-active NBA player on the list of all-time leading scorers is none other than Chris Paul, ranked 41st all time (20,844 points), but at his current scoring rate and already-advanced age (37 this spring) there’s no way he cracks top-10 all time before he retires. Paul is likely satisfied with being the ONLY NBA player in history to score 20,000 points and dish 10,000 assists.
Can Book be the best Suns scorer ever?
Devin Booker is already 7th on the Suns all-time scoring list, and will move up to 6th by the weekend because he’s only 30 points behind Amare Stoudemire.
Who does he need to pass up to be the Suns All-Time leading scorer?
- Walter Davis 15,666
- Alvan Adams 13,910
- Kevin Johnson 12,747
- Shawn Marion 12,134
- Dick Van Arsdale 12,060
- Amare Stoudemire 11,035
- Devin Booker 11,005
Assuming he keeps up his 25 points per game pace, Book will pass Walter Davis and take over the All-Time Suns scoring lead in about two and a half seasons at the ripe old age of 28.
The Suns have scorers more prolific than Sweet D that rank higher on the All-Time scoring list, but they spent only a fraction of their careers in a Suns uniform.
Other Suns of note among Top-50 All-Time Scorers:
27. Charles Barkley (4 of 16 seasons with Suns)
46. Joe Johnson (4 of 17 years with Suns)
48. Tom Chambers (5 of 16 seasons with Suns)
The key to All-Time scoring is not just talent but also longevity. Booker’s got the scoring part. Now he needs the longevity part.
I can see Durant lasting at this scoring level for 7+ more years. He just looks ageless out there. But I don’t think there’s ANY way Harden or Westbrook put up 20+ points a year for another 7+ years to come. Do you?
One other note on the All-Time scoring list: only two players (Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki) among the Top 10 played for one team their entire career.
Let’s hope Devin Booker joins Kobe and Dirk as All-Time Top-10 Scorers who stayed with one franchise!