Remember that game last year on December 17 when Devin Booker poured in 58 points, including a crazy 36 in the second half alone!, to help carry the Phoenix Suns to a win over the Zion Williamson Pelicans after trailing by 24 late in the third quarter?
“I think the only person who could have stopped him from scoring tonight was me, by taking him out of the game,” joked head coach Monty Williams after game.
Booker played 42 minutes of 48 possible minutes that night to get those 58 points in the comeback win, just recently having come back from a 2-game absence for tightness in his left hamstring. He’d played the prior game, posting 14 points in 34 minutes in a win over the Clippers, before exploding for 58 points against the Pels.
Book was on top of the world, ready to claim his status as a top-10 scorer in the league and potential MVP candidate, with a 28.8 points scoring average and a 19-8 record in the lineup, despite playing most of that time without the services of two starters in Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson. That 58-point whopper was the frosting on that cake.
But the next day his campaign crashed to a halt.
He woke up with groin soreness that he later aggravated into a strain when trying to return for the Christmas game versus Denver, and the Book we knew didn’t return to action for two months.
“I probably played him too many minutes,” head coach Monty Williams said after this discovery. Of course, it was NOT Williams’s fault. Book regularly plays 40+ minutes in a game, never indicates a need for rest, and a good coach doesn’t pull his hottest player during a comeback. Williams did nothing wrong. Book’s body just didn’t cooperate.
Book’s had hamstring and groin issues for years now. A week here, two weeks there. Various ailments for sure, but last year was the first time he missed SO much time (29 games mistsed). He hadn’t missed more than 14 in a season since he was a wee lad on a tanking team.
Hopefully, we go back to normal Book and not 2022-23 oh-shit Book.
He’s scheduled for an MRI today (no results yet) on a sore foot that he experienced at the end of another dominant performance where he showed he simply can’t be stopped when he’s focused and on-ball, which is the whole plan this season.
Point Book has arrived, and his 32-point, 8-assist show against the Warriors had us feeling he’s going to be top-3 in the MVP voting this year.
But now this. Sore foot. MRI pending. You don’t screw around with foot issues in the NBA. Caution is of utmost priority. He can’t be rushing back. There’s 80 games left BEFORE the playoffs, which should stretch the slate to 110 or so pending games.
We find out later today or tomorrow what the MRI says.
But even if ir’s clear, there’s ZERO reason to push him now and make him deal with it, possibly worsen it or hurt something else by compensating. Just go back one year. One hammy tightness turned into a groin tightness which turned into a full-blown groin strain with extended absence.
Let’s do this right. Take the time.
And investigate the actual NBA-player level fitness of these new Book 1s. Remember they were advertised as street/court crossover shoes. Should Book be wearing them on the court? If so, he gonna need extreme modifications for just himself and another NBA players who want to wear them.
I’m sure you guys know — I’m NOT a shoe guy, so this is like me trying to talk rocket science — that Curry, LeBron and others don’t just wear the off the shelf version of their shoes. They have a custom fit just for them. I heard that specifically about Bron, and that he needed a few tries to get it right. Maybe Book needs a few more tries to get it right.
Or maybe it has nothing to do with the shoe at all, and it was about playing full speed, for the full game, for the first time in five months.
Either way, a foot sprain is a foot sprain. Not to be taken lightly in any way.
Get better Book. Don’t push back early, just because you have miss 16 or fewer games to qualify for All-NBA or MVP this year. Health is key.
The real award is a championship in June.