Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns has been drawing attention lately as he continues to evolve as a player. Booker is fond of vintage cars, fashion, and even some NBA bad blood, particularly with Luka Doncic. Nike has released a Booker-themed Zoom GT Cut 2, which he wears in warm-ups, but for games, he prefers his vintage Kobes. Booker often speaks about his own history, not always with fondness, but he doesn’t want to clear the scars. Booker had a magical night in Boston in 2017, scoring 70 points. However, he spent most of his first four years with the Suns cycling through coaches and averaging 22 wins per season. But that seems like a lifetime ago now, as Booker added another file to his elite playoff résumé Friday night, showcasing one of those near-flawless offensive games that have developed into his trademark. Booker scored 47 points on 20-of-25 shooting Friday night in the vital 121-114 Game 3 win in Phoenix, clearly sensing the importance of the game.
The usually even-keeled Booker let out a guttural roar when he made his final hoop of the night, a driving layup in traffic that defeated the Nuggets’ attempts to throw bodies at him one last time. The Suns are still in trouble in this series, and Booker and Kevin Durant remain the team’s offensive output mainstays. Booker has had three exceptional performances in the past two weeks, including 45 points in a pivotal Game 3 road win against the LA Clippers, where he shot 18-of-29, and 25 points in a whirlwind third quarter in that series’ closeout Game 5, part of a 47-point masterpiece that matched the playoff career high he tied again on Friday, where he made 19-of-27 shots with 37.2 points, 60% shooting, and 2.6 steals per game.
Booker often reflects on his journey and how it has taken him from a young team to an established team. He feels it’s something different to have embraced his development and journey, even with the initial struggles. People around him in Phoenix believe he’s never played a more complete game and that he’s become the team’s most active playmaker on defense. Against the Clippers, he often took on top defensive responsibility, whether it was Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell, or Russell Westbrook. Booker is the team’s current alpha, even while playing with future Hall of Famers Durant and Chris Paul.
Booker is known for calling out a play before receiving instructions from coach Monty Williams. Sometimes, he and Williams’ plays are the same, which is scary, according to Williams. Booker waves off the concept that he has recently taken some sort of leap; he believes this is just vintage Book. In 2019, Williams woke up to a text from Booker in the middle of the night, upset that he wasn’t assigned to defend a superstar on the opposing team. Williams didn’t see Booker as that type of player, but it spoke volumes to him that Booker wanted to take on that responsibility. Booker continues to make a name for himself and evolve his game.