Being the Phoenix Suns’ primary scorer is Devin Booker’s main responsibility. Even now that he’s teamed up with Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, two elite scorers, Booker is still the primary option in scoring for the Suns. That’s been the case since he entered the league. Now that he’s in his ninth season, he’s shown how much he’s grown as a player.
He can still score at an elite level, with many calling him the best shooting guard in the NBA. Those claims are because of his offensive skills, which have improved through the years. But many overlook that he’s become a great defensive player for the Suns. His defensive improvement started to show last season, where he finished fifth in defensive win shares for the team.
It’s not just in the advanced stats where he’s shown improvement. Many have seen how smart he’s become in handling one-on-one situations. There have been situations where he stayed in front of the opposing player. But even until now, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard won’t be able to stay in front of most players he’ll be tasked to defend.
While he won’t be a lockdown defender like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, Booker will still be a vital factor in their defense this season.
Frank Vogel’s defensive schemes will benefit Booker
We’ve seen the Suns execute a team-oriented defense during the Suns’ preseason games. It hinted at what they can bring on the defensive end, which could help average to below-average defenders. This way, Booker can appear as an elite lockdown defender for Phoenix.
Head coach Frank Vogel expects the three-time All-Star to exert plenty of effort on the defensive end. It also helps that he’s usually on the floor with Josh Okogie, a well-known perimeter defender. Booker’s defensive tenacity has increased whenever he’s on the floor with a premier lockdown defender like Okogie.
Even during their past postseason run, Booker has always believed that he’s a capable defender.
"“I take a lot of pride in it. And I always have. I had a reputation early in my career that I couldn’t do it, being a part of a losing team was tough. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders.” Booker said. “But now, doing it collectively with the group of five, with everybody locked in to the same scheme, it allows everybody to be aggressive on the ball. You know you have help behind you, people covering up your mistakes.”"
Booker can finish strong defensively and possibly end his 2023-24 campaign as part of the All-Defensive Third Team. It might look like a stretch for most people, but the team’s new system will allow him to flourish as a reliable defender. He’s a crucial part of their team, not just on offense but also on defense.