The Phoenix Suns had their best win of the season on Wednesday night, picking up a huge 133-155 home win over the surging Minnesota Timberwolves. The Suns moving to 5-6 in the process, and in doing so inflicting only the third loss of the season on the Timberwolves.
It got even better for the franchise from The Valley, as Devin Booker played what was only his third game of the season, and looked fantastic in the process. He finished with 31 points, the same amount as teammate Kevin Durant, with the Suns making the top ranked defensive team in the league (105.7) look positively ordinary in the process.
After the win – and with Bradley Beal sure to be back playing soon – Durant paid Booker the highest compliment that he could.
Booker was his usual fantastic offensive self, and this season has chipped in with 8.7 assists per game, by far a career high for him. When he is healthy, the team’s lack of a true table-setter is maxed excellently. When Booker sits however, the need for a competent backup who can play instead of Jordan Goodwin and Saben Lee.
Now that Booker is back (he played 26 minutes and was on a minute’s restriction), the panic levels have dropped significantly. With two games against the Utah Jazz next up – a team the Suns have already beaten this season – the opportunity is there to go above .500.
Both Booker and Durant spoke to the media in the wake of the win over the Timberwolves, with Durant having this to say about his All-Star teammate joining him on the court for a statement win over Anthony Edwards, one of the best players in the world right now.
Booker’s reaction says it all here. How great it must feel to have the public backing of one of the 20 best players of all-time, and at a position that isn’t natural to Booker. Durant said all of the right things at media day about this being Booker’s team, but the proof was always going to be in backing that up with his actions. With this comment, Durant has certainly done that.
Although it would be nice to have another capable backup for when Booker inevitably misses some more time – everybody from T.J. McConnell to John Wall has been touted as a possible solution – his transition to willing facilitator has been seamless to this point. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking Booker has been a natural point guard his whole career.
What has been even better is how Booker has still called his own number and gotten his own, and it has been completely in the flow of the offense for the Suns. The sample size is small, but the 31.1 points per game he is currently averaging is a career high, and the prospect of putting up over 30 for the first time in his career would be a nice start to an MVP case for Booker.
What will work against him there, is the amount of games he has already missed. Shooting an insane 45.5 percent from deep won’t last, but it is another positive number and shows exactly why Durant is happy to call Booker this team’s point guard. He is exactly that, and is playing some of the best basketball of his career while running a contending roster.