Suns Squared: Season Wrap Up – Devin Booker and the Rookies

Feb 28, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks on before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks on before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

Devin Booker’s sophomore effort displayed his ever brightening future, and that was before he scored 70 in a game.

Booker’s sophomore season was marked by impressive improvement in almost every statistical category. Growth is expected from rookie to sophomore season but the percent growth for Booker was larger than you would predict and which alone could indicate better than just good things for the future.

Percent Growth60.1%30.8%62.5%

The largest offensive improvement for Booker came not only in points but also assists and made field goals, each of which are strong indicators that Booker was playing a much greater role as the team’s offensive focal point. Booker especially displayed this potential over the final 9 games of the season where he averaged 32 points per game while shooting 44%, slightly better than his season average. There are some worrying trends however as Booker’s all-around stats are still low with rebound and assists numbers around 3. Booker’s turnovers were 3.1 per game for the season which is something he will have to clean up moving forward.


When it came to advanced numbers, Booker again showed improvement almost across the board. The exception being his defensive and efficiency stats. Booker’s effective field goal percentage dropped from 0.48 to 0.475 and his true shooting percentage dropped from 0.535 to 0.531. Those drops in particular are small and not worrisome on the surface, given Booker’s adjustment to a higher usage rate.

Booker’s second season definitely inspires hope, and an off-season of rounding out his game and as well as continuing to bolster his scoring ability will fast track his path to superstardom.

Now to take a look at the Suns’ rookie crop.

With two top-ten picks as well as an earlier second round selection, the production and growth of the Suns’ rookies have been something impressive to watch all season.

Marqueses Chriss9.
Tyler Ulis7.33.71.642.1%0.14
Dragan Bender3.40.52.435.4%0.07

Overall, the numbers put up by the first round selections are slightly disappointing. Bender and Chriss were both high lottery selections and the limited production from both, especially Bender, is discouraging. On the other hand, the performance of Ulis is a nice surprise for the Suns. Ulis’ stats for the season were nothing to go crazy about but his performance over the last 15 games when he was converted to the full-time starter was pretty impressive. Ulis averaged 16 points and 8 assists as a starter which are solid numbers going forward.

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There are some more positive takeaways for the rookies as well. Chriss’ 1.5 defensive win score (DWS) was second best on the team. Also, Bender and Ulis both posted positive DWS a which slightly surprising given how tough it is for rookies adjust to defense in the NBA.

After taking a deeper dive into the numbers, I am still a little disappointed. I was hoping for much more from Bender and even befor his unfortunate injury was still lagging behind a little. Both Ulis and Chriss showed flashes of solid play but consistency is something that will build as they gain more experience.