Can Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker make a scoring leap next season?

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports /

Devin Booker has taken a step back as a slasher.

During the 2020 season, Booker drove 14 times per game, with 23% of his shot attempts being at the rim (0-3ft). That number has fallen to less than 10 times per game, with merely 11% of his attempts at the rim. While his shot diet has become more midrange and three-point focused (which he has been great at), this elimination of rim attempts is concerning, and the largest reason for his drop in efficiency.

Layups are the easiest shot in the game, and it’s no secret that the best scorers are also the best at getting to the rim. Booker hasn’t seen a huge drop as a finisher, as he’s converted at an elite 70% rate for the past 3 seasons, but he’s far more hesitant to get there and gets deterred on drives more often.

This less aggressive playstyle has decreased his free-throw attempts by two per game, eliminating more easy points from his production. This overall decline in rim pressure has devastating effects. With his game becoming more dependent on jump shooting, it’s more variable to shooting slumps, and at times throughout the past two playoff runs, Phoenix has severely lacked rim pressure. That element is not only valuable from a scoring perspective, but it’s the easiest way to create advantages as a playmaker.

Booker’s recurring hamstring injuries likely have a lot to do with this decline as a slasher, which is understandable, but if he wants to truly become a top five caliber scorer instead of simply top ten, he’ll need to again unlock that part of his game.