Devin Booker’s 34-Point Preseason Performance Hints At A Surprising Kind Of Stardom

10.08.16 3 weeks ago

Devin Booker always seemed destined to be a world-class shooter. How encouraging it is for his present and future, then, that the Phoenix Suns guard already looks like a star despite failing to live up to that reputation.

In his team’s 115-110 loss the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, Booker scored 34 points and doled-out five assists in just under 30 minutes of play. He shot 15-of-23 from the field and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. Even more impressive than those eye-popping box-score statistics, though, is how the 19-year-old accomplished them.

At 6-foot-6 and an increasingly-sturdy 206 pounds, Booker already has the innate feel and sense of pace normally reserved for primary ball handlers. If the Kentucky product had consistently flashed that ability during his lone collegiate campaign, there’s no way he would have lasted until the 13th pick of the 2015 draft. Only so many comfortable all-court shooters, after all, rarely supplement their greatest strength with playmaking ingenuity like this.

But Booker already does, and Suns coach Earl Watson is likely to take exploit that advantage on a nightly basis this season by putting his young star in ball-screen situations across the floor over and over again. There’s only so much a defense can do to stop a player who can slither his way to the rim, stop on a dime for mid-range jumpers, or find open teammates with high-level passing reads in pick-and-roll play with equal ease.

That Booker makes all that look so easy as a teenager is the greatest reason for optimism about his career going forward. But that he’s yet to capitalize on his clear potential as a pull-up threat from beyond the arc definitely isn’t far behind it, either. And given Booker’s picture-perfect stroke and burgeoning all-around offensive ability, it seems only a matter of time until he eventually does.

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