Devin Booker is closing the talent gap on Luka Doncic

With another fantastic display in the books against the Dallas Mavericks, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns is closing the talent gap on Luka Doncic.
Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns
Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Wednesday night represented another peak in the season of the Phoenix Suns, as they beat the Dallas Mavericks 132-109 on the road to win their seventh straight game. Tied for their longest win streak of the season, and coming at just the right time for the organization.

Luka Doncic of the Mavericks was as fantastic as ever in the game, posting 34 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. With Kyrie Irving missing as a result of a sprained thumb, it was the same old story for Luka and the Mavs. An incredible player that just doesn't have the talent around him in order to be a legitimate threat every night.

One the other side of the court however it was Devin Booker's night - and with 46 points in a winning performance - he has officially closed the talent gap on Doncic.

Suns fans rightly love Booker, he is the face of the franchise even with Kevin Durant on this team, but even the staunchest of supporters in The Valley would have to acknowledge that Doncic is the better player. Yes his complaining to the referees on seemingly every possession gets tiresome, but offensively at least, he does it all for his team.

Booker may have been tasked with being the Suns' point guard this season - and he has performed brilliantly in the role - but Doncic has been doing that for years now, and the results have been great. Even with Irving on the team, the ball is in Doncic's hands, and the team high usage of 36.3 percent accurately reflects that.

Yet in beating the Mavericks and putting up 46 while sharing the ball-handling duties with Bradley Beal, Booker had himself a Doncic-like game, which was just as well as Durant struggled with his shooting all night and finished with a paltry 12 points. Booker may be three years Doncic's senior at 27, but he still looks like he has another level to get to in this league.

Booker also has a much better head-to-head record against Doncic - during the regular season at least - having won 10 of the 13 games they have played so far. Doncic has won when it really mattered though, with their seven game playoff series in 2022 going the way of the Mavericks.

Should the two teams meet again in the postseason this year, Booker would have the advantage simply by playing for the better team. But on a personal level his growth in impacting all facets of his team's play has seen him move closer to Doncic in that regard. The 7.6 assists he has averaged so far this season a career high, even if that has come at the expense of his otherworldly shooting ability.

Booker at this stage of his career is also the more willing defender of the two, although he still doesn't quite command the attention of everybody as Doncic does when he is on the ball. During their most recent meeting, any time Doncic probed and drove into the paint, every single Suns player closed down the space around him, and he still got off any pass that he wanted.

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It is on Booker to take the next step to also be able to do the same thing, although in a pure scoring contest between the two, he may just have the edge. Booker has diversified his game this season for the better of the team, with the 26.7 points he has put up his lowest mark in three seasons. But when he really needs to, he can be the best scorer in the league as we saw in the playoffs last season.

His 33.7 points per night leading the NBA, as Booker helped the Suns become the only team to beat the eventual champion Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. There is little doubt that if Booker was on the Mavericks, he would have to do more and so his play would reflect that. But because he doesn't, his game has evolved in a different way to Doncic's, but that doesn't mean he isn't closing the gap.