We have almost reached the All-Star break here in Devin Booker's ninth NBA season, and if it was not clear before, it is now, he is one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen. This season alone Book has had ten 30 point games, three 40 point games, and two fifty plus point games, including a 62 point performance which is the second highest scoring game of his career.
Early on in his career many people who did not pay any attention to the Suns besides skimming over box scores questioned Bookers ability to translate his scoring to wins, but these past few seasons he has put those concerns to rest. Since the 2020-21 season Booker has compiled a 163-64 record which also included a NBA Finals appearance, all while averaging 26.9 points per game in that stretch.
It seemed like every time Booker would reach a new milestone in scoring 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 points and so on he was mentioned in elite company as one of the fastest players to reach those marks.
Some of those players usually being Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and his eventual teammate Kevin Durant.
In his second season Book really started to make a name for himself, his scoring average jumped from 13.8 points per game to 22.1, a 8.3 point increase. While many people knew his name and that he was a good scorer, one night in the Boston garden would change how he was perceived forever.
On March 24th 2017 Booker scored a career high 70 points, one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history.
At the time that 70 point game was the sixth highest scoring performance ever and was the most since Kobe Bryants 81 point game in 2006. Book took the league by storm that night and put himself of a national stage as a great scorer.
Not only was that Bookers career high, that ended up being the Suns all time single game scoring record, passing the 60 point mark set by Suns legend Tom Chambers exactly 27 years prior.
Devin faced a lot of criticism for the Suns losing that game despite his historic performance, burn those who were tapped into Suns basketball and who actually watched the game knew what the deal was.
With the losses piling up and people questioning whether Bookers scoring could lead the Suns to any victories, that all changed in the winter of 2020 with the arrival of Chris Paul in Phoenix. Paul took over the primary playmaker role and let Booker do what he does best, score with the best of them. Together they helped the Suns reach the NBA finals for the third time in franchise history.
That 2021 playoff run turned out to be one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NBA history for Booker. He averaged 27.3 points per game in his first playoff run and had some great moments for himself on the way to the finals.
Opening up his playoff debut against LeBron James and the Lakers in the first round, Booker averaged 29.7 points against them that round including a 47 point game en route to a 4-2 series win.
Next up was the Denver Nuggets led by Nikola Jokic, while many remember that was the Chris Paul series Booker put up a 34 point, 11 rebound game on his way to a sweep and a Western Conference Finals appearance.
Chris Paul missed the first two games of the Conference Finals and Booker excelled as it was essentially Booker vs Paul George, as Kawhi Leonard missed the entirety of that series. Booker opened the series scoring 40 points while reaching his first career triple double in the win, proving he did not need CP3 in order to translate his scoring to wins.
Up next was the NBA Finals, Booker had back to back 40 point games against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks who eventually beat the Suns 4-2 and ended their championship dreams. Despite Losing the series Booker still managed to average 28.2 points per game in the Finals.
That 2021 playoff run really put Booker on the map, he scored a total of 601 points which is the most points ever scored in a players first playoff run. While the Suns were not able to finish the job one thing was clear, Booker is a prime time player and had no plans on stopping anytime soon.
More recently Booker impressed greatly in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the Suns would end up losing to the eventual NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, but Booker once again was lights out with his scoring. Opening the playoffs against the Clippers, Bookers game seemed to reach another level and he has not looked back since. Book averaged 37.2 points against LA that series and had a stretch of 38, 45, 30, and eventually a 47 point game to send the Clippers home.
Onto the next round Booker and the Suns would face the two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and the eventual champion, Denver Nuggets. Despite losing the series Booker was still able to shine, averaging 30.8 points per game that series. The Suns ended up losing in 6 games, but Booker only scored under 27 points one time, and once again had a 47 point playoff game.
We are almost at the All-Star break here in the 2023-24 season and Booker is once again lighting up opposing defenses with his scoring, averaging a career high 28.3 points per game. Now playing alongside Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant, who are both proven 30 point per game scorers it was exciting to see how they would mesh together, and so far it has been great.
With Beal taking on more of a playmaking and defensive role along with consistent scoring, Booker and Durant have excelled as the main scoring options. As of late Booker has been on an absolute heater, in the month of January Booker averaged 30 points per game even on an incredible 53.9/40/86 shooting splits.
Since the 19th Booker has compiled games of 52, 46, 44, and an almost career best 62 points against the Indiana Pacers.
Booker is not very popular amongst casual NBA fans but that does not discredit his numbers, he holds the respect from his peers and analysts, which matters most. As legendary broadcaster Kevin Harlan says in the NBA 2K24 video game “When it comes to scoring, Booker is one of the most explosive players of all time”.
There is still a lot of basketball for the Suns to play this season, including the playoffs, but Booker seems to be on a mission to continue proving himself to be one of the greatest scorers in NBA history