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Quotes: Devin Booker talks defense, ‘COCO5’ ownership and new Nike shoe after Monday practice

Here’s what Book said before Game 5 Tuesday

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Here is what Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker said after the team’s practice Monday. Phoenix leads its first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers three games to one and has a chance to close the series Tuesday at home.

On his playmaking ability and how it has helped in his time with coach Monty Williams:

“I think early in my career, I was just thrown into the fire. The ball was put into my hands and I had the opportunity to play through mistakes when (formers Suns coaches) Earl (Watson) was here, when Jay (Triano) was here, when Igor (Kokoskov) was here. Those guys just believed in me through turnovers, through just being a young kid trying to learn the game. And with the ability to score, I was thrown a lot of defenses at me. And like I said, the ability to learn through those mistakes.”

On his passing and ability to read the floor:

“It’s just taking what the defense gives you. Just trying to apply pressure to them and we’re still figuring out our spacing around each other and what works. And just finding our tendencies. It’s been working well.”

On the impact of Suns starting center Deandre Ayton this postseason:

“I mean, just being big. They throw a lot of small guard lineups out there that put smaller guards on him and (Clippers center Ivica) Zubac on (Suns forward) [Torrey Craig]. And just being a force, and he’s been able to do that. Big offensive rebounds late in games, setting great screens with great angles, and it’s opening everything else for everybody else.”

“I think he just hears it (about rebounding better) a little bit from everybody. Just a collective group, both ways though too. We hear from him too and we hear everybody out on this team. We all have the same objective and that’s to win the game. So it’s important to communicate.”

On having a chance to close this series at home:

“I mean, it’s a good feeling. But we just have to do it. That’s what it’s going to come down to. I think we’re in this situation before… they came out in Game 5 (in the 2021 Western Conference Finals) and beat us last time that happened. So just coming in with awareness, ready to go from the beginning and just protect home court, like we’ve been saying all series.”

On how much he wants to take on defensive assignments against top players:

“I take a lot of pride in it. And I always have. I had a reputation early in my career that I couldn’t do it, being a part of a losing team was tough. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. But now, doing it collectively with the group of five, with everybody locked in to the same scheme, it allows everybody to be aggressive on the ball. You know you have help behind you, people covering up your mistakes.”

If it was fair for people to criticize his defense earlier in his career:

“No. I always thought I was a good defender.”

“A lot of it’s scheme. I always say that it’s scheme and communication. Typically, you have different game plans for each team, and you’re playing against other players’ tendencies. When all five guys don’t understand that on the court together, that can cause confusion. So it might look like somebody’s messing up a coverage, but you really don’t know who’s at fault because there’s only one game plan.”

On the importance of setting the tone in the first quarter, a period the Suns have not led after yet in this series:

“It’s important. As I say it is, we haven’t done it yet. We’re trying to. You have to credit them, they’ve come out playing well, too. So even if we don’t get a good start, we still just have to weather the storm. It’s a 48-minute game, and we understand that. The thing about our team, we haven’t been shook yet in those moments. We came to the time out, regrouped and get on the same page. And we’re at it.”

On the team growing together this series:

“I think each game has been important in our growth. And even the six or seven games that we got before the postseason started, I think we’re learning something every game on both sides of the ball. We’re finding out what works. And I was talking about spacing earlier, spacing’s a bit part of it. Allowing (Suns forward) Kevin (Durant) to get to work and being a playmaker at the same time, along with (Suns guard) Chris (Paul) to get to his strong spots, that’s going to make everything easier for everybody else. So just all being on the same page.”

On the togetherness of this Suns team:

“We spend a lot of time together. We have a good balance of joking and laughing on the planes and on the buses. And then when it’s time to get down to business, we all lock in.”

On Suns center Bismack Biyombo’s shot-blocking:

“When I was saying, ‘Be aggressive on the ball and have somebody behind you to cover up your mistakes,’ that’s one of those guys that allows us, that gives me the confidence to be able to pressure anybody, knowing that you have that type of help behind you. His first jump, his second jump are both incredible and he has the ability to come over and help. And if they dump off to their man, still help and get back in time to contest a shot. I’ve played against it in practice, it’s not easy to go against. And he’s telling me every game, ‘I’m behind you, Book.’ And that’s important.”

On Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who is one of Booker’s close friends, and his promotion of Coco5, a sports drink that Booker is a majority owner for:

“It’s important for us. I brought out in the (2021 NBA) Finals, when we played also. And just the ability to be able to endorse your own product, something that he’s invested in too…It’s a passion project for both of us, and for it to come to light a little bit and for people to see it on the big stage was important.”

On what changes in his mentality for the postseason:

“Honestly, just win at all costs. All the regular-season stuff, the statistics, the stats, the efficiency. All that is off the table. We all have one main goal, and each game is it’s own new project. And that’s how we view it, each game has its own personality and you have to have a quick memory win or loss, on to the next one until the job’s finished.”

On his reaction to Suns starting point guard Chris Paul’s one-handed shot in the final minutes of Game 4:

“‘What the hell is he doing?’” But obviously, he didn’t know that it hit the rim. And maybe from his angle, it didn’t look like it at all. Deandre kind of jumped a little bit, acting like as if it had missed short. But we’ll take it, we’ll take it for sure.”

On how his new playoff edition shoe with Nike came about:

“That’s a project. As everybody knows, I wear a lot of Kobes (Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe), and I think Nike wanted something to go to retail with my name on it that isn’t a Kobe line and see how it does. So I just mixed it up, put my colorways on it. I have a few myself, but I think the green one is the one that’s going to retail. Not sure on the date, but pretty sure it’s coming soon. I’ve been wearing them pregame, comfortable shoe. Light weight, but I’m still stuck in my Kobes right now.”

On the inspiration of his colorways:

“All of my colorways, man, is just tonal, desert-inspired. The greens, the browns, the tans, just everything toned out. And that’s just the color palette

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