Phoenix Suns: 3 Ways For Devin Booker to Bounce Back in Game 4

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Phoenix Suns
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Phoenix Suns Ways to Revamp Devin Booker: Run Past Suns Plays for Booker

The Suns must find a way to get Booker the ball by any means necessary. With PJ Tucker aggressively denying him the rock though, Booker is having trouble getting to his spots. Tucker is pushing, grabbing, and fouling Booker seemingly every time down the floor, as is expected given his reputation as a physical defender.

But the Suns can help free Booker up from Tucker’s defense. To get Booker the ball in a timely manner, Phoenix should set multiple screens from several different angles to shake Tucker off him.

The best way to deal with an overtly physical defender such as Tucker is to make him move as much as possible. It makes things visibly more difficult for Tucker to get away with grabbing and pushing Booker if he has to navigate through screens and chase him down.

These two sets from past Phoenix Suns coaching staffs illustrate how to get Booker open perfectly. Yes, these clips are from the 2017-18 season, back in the days of Jared Dudley and Tyler Ulis, but they still hold relevance.

The “Thumb Up” Play:

This set was popular with former Portland Trailblazers head coach Terry Stotts. Stotts often ran this for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum during his time coaching for Portland. Former Suns coach Earl Watson occasionally ran this set to get Booker to his spot when defenders tried to deny him the ball.

Coach Watson designed that play to get Booker in the post. It will likely more difficult for Booker to post up Tucker in the same manner he did against Eric Gordon. However, the flare screen can be set similarly to give Booker a head of steam to then take Tucker off the dribble.

Also, I would use Mikal Bridges as the guy to set the flare screen for Booker because he is an excellent off-ball cutter. Bridges’s ability to cut to the basket at just the right time means he would be a constant threat to slip the screen and score, which gives Milwaukee’s defense one extra thing to worry about as they defend the play.

Closing the “Gate” for Booker:

This is a classic play to get a team’s best shooter open for a 3-pointer. Coach Williams would be wise to take yet another page out of Coach Watson’s playbook here, and get Booker an open look early in the game.

Milwaukee will eventually figure out how to stop this play, but Booker will get wide open 3-pointers until they do. He can come off this double-screen and either shoot the ball, or take it to the basket. Both are viable options.

Former Phoenix coaches have run effective plays to get Booker open in the past. But what about general managers? Former Suns GM Steve Kerr has been the head coach for the Golden State Warriors for the past several years, winning three championships thanks to the incredible shooting acumen of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Coach Kerr uses screens and misdirection to get Curry and Thompson open looks all the time.

Here is one of his go-to plays to get his shooters open.

Steve Kerr’s screen-the-screener action, explained: 

Coming out of college, an article on projected Booker as the next Klay Thompson. Why not let Booker live up to his pre-draft projection by running the exact same play Kerr uses to get Thompson open triples with?

I love the idea of using misdirection to get Booker open! Milwaukee’s defense is going to have trouble switching on all those screens, as we saw in Game 1. I would run this play as soon as Booker enters the game midway through the fourth quarter to break apart Tucker down the stretch. The more off-ball movement for Booker, the better looks he will get on offense.