Suns Squared: Devin Booker Rising


Devin Booker has put his slow start behind him and has spent January lighting the league up.

Devin Booker did not get off to a good start in the beginning of the season. Only 13 times in the first 33 games of the season did Booker score 20 or more. The slow start was rather worrisome and seemed to indicate Booker was headed into the proverbial “sophomore slump” season.

However, the move into 2017 has seen Booker turn the corner and get his season on track.

Booker’s biggest improvement in January has been his scoring and shooting jumpers. After averaging less than 20 the first three months of the season Booker has averaged 25.6 in January. Also, his true shooting percentage is the highest for a single month in his career (.598) and would put him in the top 10 of TS% for guards in the league this year if he played this way all year.

A table looking at how his shooting and scoring numbers look month by month is below. I included Booker’s DRE per minute in the chart below as he is outperforming there as well indicating that he is seeing an overall box score improvement.

Month (Games)PPGTrue Shooing%DRE/min

October (3)




November (15)




December (15)




January (13)




The clear indication is that January has seen a significant increase in offensive output from all the other months of this year for Booker. These numbers could be looked at and explained away as a hot shooting month as many players have become hot for short bursts this year. This included notable rookies Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield, Murray who started the season hot before cooling off significantly and Hield doing the opposite, he started very slow before heating up in December.

The way Booker’s numbers seem to be different is that advanced metrics show that his better play in January extended beyond just shooting and scoring numbers. Booker is also out-performing his monthly averages in DRE/min, plus-minus, and Net rating during January. This is different from Murray and Hield who actually had lows in the some of their advanced numbers during their hot shooting months. Booker’s DRE/min numbers aren’t that impressive but they are trending in the right direction and if he could cut down on turnovers then the DRE numbers would rise into elite company. Below is a graph of Booker’s month to month plus-minus and net rating.

Bookermonthly /

Neither plus-minus or net rating are perfect metrics but they both do a good job in providing a look at how the team is playing with a certain player on the floor. Booker’s dramatic improvements in both metrics (5.8 point improvement in plus-minus and 7.5 point improvement in net rating) is extremely impressive and a good indication that his better play is more than just him putting the ball in the basket but also means he is working to do the little things and making the team better overall.

Hopefully, these numbers are a sign of great things to come from Booker as the Suns need him to emerge as a star. Booker belongs to the group of players drafted in this last couple years that are evolving fast into some of the best players in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Davis, and others represent the same class of youth as Booker and have all taken the league by storm this year. If Booker continues to improve and turn his flashes of brilliance into consistent brilliance then he can break into this group of elite players and become a cornerstone for the Suns for the next decade.