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What made Devin Booker the NBA’s best through one round of playoffs

Book’s performance through five games has been “spiritual” and he has a strong argument for the playoff belt across the league

2023 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re running out of superlatives to describe Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, but he just continues to get better, seemingly by the week. With most of the MVP candidates taking their time to settle into the postseason, Booker took advantage of the opportunity and shot to the top of the overall board for first-round performance.

Let me preface this by making one thing abundantly clear. I am not here to tear anyone down or pit people against each other in some First Take-ian style. I’m an appreciator of ball in a very pure sense; I dare to vocally compliment Clippers plays in a room full of Suns fans during that first round series. Think of it this way:

So to kick off the propping up of Booker, here’s a numbers-based look at the bad man from Moss Point High School and the University of Kentucky

  • 37.2 points (1st)
  • 60.2 FG% (2nd among players taking at least 10 shots per game)
  • 46.7 3P% (4th among players taking at least 6.0 threes per game)
  • 6.4 assists (4th among players 6-6 or taller)
  • 2.6 steals (1st)
  • 3.0 deflections (11th overall, 1st among players with more than two games playing at least 40 minutes)
  • 69.7 TS% (2nd among players with at least 30 mpg in five games)
  • 28.9 usage% (20th)
  • 1.265 points per possession overall (17th overall, 2nd among players with at least 16 possessions per game; Booker’s at 29.4 poss.)
  • 1.559 ppp in transition (3rd overall behind Jimmy Butler and Ja Morant)

Booker’s offense was truly lethal to a mostly-patchwork Clippers defense, but it’s going to be tough for teams to stop when their options are to either leave him single-covered as he was for much of that series, or blitz him and give 4-on-3 chances to Kevin Durant instead.

Even if teams do want to open up the rest of the floor for Booker, he’s already demonstrated a consistency with which he distributes the rock, dishing out at least seven assists in three of the five games, including his 34th-career double-digit assist game in the 47-and-10 closeout performance.

With teams already starting to throw their hands up at this “fully-operational death star” on offense, Booker is also becoming someone that opposing offenses have to gameplan given his enormous defensive impact, illustrated most easily by him ranking first (!!!) in steals per game, even despite playing the most games to this point.

His event creation throughout the series was truly stellar. It’s a cake of 37.2 points on 69.7% TS with icing of 3.6 stocks per game:

Knowing that Booker is already reaching this level, he might even have another level to go in these playoffs, given a slight live-ball turnover issue he faced over the course of this series with at least three turnovers in every game but one.

Considering that and the fact that Kevin Durant has been relatively quiet thus far in the playoffs, scoring “only” between 25 and 31, he’s likely to explode at some point himself, opening up the floor even more for Booker and the others.

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