Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of each man that contributed in the 2021-22 season. We go through the roster to analyze what went right/wrong for them, and what they can do to get better for next season.
Check out all players covered so far here: 2022 Phoenix Suns Player Reviews, including Cameron Johnson, JaVale McGee and Torrey Craig.
- Position: Shooting Guard
- Vitals: 6’5” tall, 206 pounds, 25 years old
- Experience: 7th NBA season, 13th pick in 2015 Draft
- Stats: 26.8 points per game, 46.6% shooting overall, 38.3% 3PT, 86.8% free throws, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals
Regular Season Recap
While he did not necessarily set career-highs across the board, this was certainly the best season of Booker’s young career, and his performances did not go unnoticed. Not only did he receive his first coaches’ selection as an NBA All-Star reserve this season (after being named an injury replacement in his last two seasons), but he also received his first media selection to the All-NBA 1st Team and finished fourth in the MVP vote.
Booker led the Suns in points and three-pointers made, making 183 threes for an average of 2.7 a game. He also led the team in free throws made and attempted, but his average of 4.6/5.3 per game was his lowest since his rookie year.
Booker had two absent stretches of note this season, missing seven games in December recovering from a left hamstring injury, and missing four games in March after entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
But it seemed that each time he went out, Booker would come back better than before. In his first 21 games, Booker had only 13 games with 20+ points, an average of 23.2 points per game. After his hamstring injury, Booker scored 20+ in 26 of his next 33 games, an average of 27.2 points per game.
And after returning from COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Booker scored 20+ points in each of the 14 games he played to end the season, averaging 31.2 points per game.
His best performance of the season came in the middle of this particular stretch when he poured 49 points on the Denver Nuggets on Mar. 24 in the Suns’ 140-130 victory. On the night that Phoenix clinched their 60th win of the season, Booker went 16-25 from the field, converted 15 of his 17 attempts from the line, and added 10 assists and 3 steals to his line as well.
Booker started his 2022 playoff campaign strong with 25 points in Game 1 of the Suns’ first-round series with the New Orleans Pelicans, and things were looking great in Game 2 after scoring 31 points and burying 7 threes in the first half alone. But an injured right hamstring forced his exit early in the third quarter. Booker would miss the rest of Game 2, as well as Games 3-5, before returning in Game 6 to help the Suns close out the Pelicans.
Booker deserves praise for his performance in Games 1-2 and 4-5 in the Suns’ second-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. But his lackluster performance in Game 3 and his horrific performance in Games 6 and 7, will forever mar this past season. Even now it looks like a typo to see that Booker was 9/31 from the field in those final two games, a putrid 29% that included him missing all eight of his attempt threes.
Booker’s ability to create for himself is his best attribute, plain and simple. Whether he’s off the ball or on the ball, inside or outside, Booker can create and make just about any shot he or his coach wants him to. Regardless of how much Booker tells us to stop comparing himself to Kobe Bryant, there is something about Booker’s repertoire that elicits memories of the game’s greatest shotmakers.
While Booker has made tremendous strides in his defensive effort, he still has a ways to go before he can be considered a positive on the defensive end. Nevertheless, Booker did finish the season with a career-high of 1.1 steals per game and set a new game-high for himself when he grabbed 6 steals against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 24th.
On the offensive side, Booker can improve on his efforts to get to the free-throw line. As mentioned before, his numbers have taken a dip in this category, especially in his last two seasons. While it’s probably true that Suns’ coach Monty Williams and Chris Paul have built an offensive scheme that creates easier opportunities for Booker to score, inherently reducing Booker’s chances of taking contested shots and getting fouled, Booker needs to look to re-incorporate this aspect of his game next season.
Likewise, Booker will need to take on more of a playmaking responsibility next season to relieve Paul of that burden. Booker has dabbled with playing point guard previously and averaged over 6 assists a game between the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. After dropping to 4.3 assists a game last season, Booker brought himself back up to 4.8 assists a game this season and must look to continue the trend next season.
On top of all this, Booker will need to find a way to maintain his output and efficiency from beyond the arc next season. After dropping into the mid-30s these past three seasons, Booker had his best shooting season since 2017-2018, with 2.7 threes on 7 attempts for 38.3%, nearly identical to his third-year campaign. With Phoenix finishing 21st in the league in 3PM and 26th in 3PA, the team can hardly afford any drop in production from Booker from three.
- Entering the fourth year of his five-year max extension, worth $33,833,400
- Eligible this summer for a 4-year, super-max extension of around $211 million that would begin in 2024
Booker’s selection to the 2022 All-NBA 1st Team has made him eligible for a super-max extension of roughly $211 million that would keep him in Phoenix through the 2027-2028 season. As spelled out by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this extension would kick in after the 2023-2024 season and starts at about $47.1 million and rises to around $58.4 million in its last year.
- 2022-2023 (Current Contract) - $33,833,400
- 2023-2024 (Current Contract) - $36,016,200
- 2024-2025 (Super-Max Extension) - ~$47,100,000
- 2025-2026 (Super-Max Extension) - ~$50,800,000
- 2026-2027 (Super-Max Extension) - ~$54,600,000
- 2027-2028 (Super-Max Extension) - ~$58,400,000
There is technically no rush to get Booker to sign this extension and with the key contracts of Cam Johnson and Deandre Ayton still needing to be sorted out, the Suns will likely be looking to push this negotiation to as late of a date as possible.
Ultimately, Booker has shown himself this year to be worthy of being named among the best in today’s game. And considering his age (turning just 26 in October) and relatively clean record of fitness over his seven-year career, Booker has shown his reliability and trustworthiness to be given the keys of the franchise.
So as the Suns first settle the contracts of Johnson and Ayton, they will need to take into account Booker’s supermax extension and decide exactly who is and who isn’t worth their asking price.
Here is how I would rate Devin Booker’s season overall
- Overall grade as an NBA player: A
- Relative grade to preseason expectations: A
How do you grade Devin Booker’s year, including playoffs?
This poll is closed