Cleat Geeks

Book it!

Last Monday, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker became the fourth-youngest player in the NBA to score 3,000 points. The three others ahead of him are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, and all three ahead of him reached that milestone before their 21st birthday.

Booker reached the 3,000 point milestone exactly one week after turning 21 and he reflected on this goal after the game on November 6. “It means a lot,” Booker said.“My dream my whole life is to play in the NBA. Once I got here I realized I wanted to leave a mark. … I’m trying to do it, and trying to get wins along with it.”

Last season, Booker had a 70 point game against the Boston Celtics and that put him into elite company, being just the sixth player in NBA history to do that, the others being, David Thompson, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain. Through 13 games this season, Booker is averaging 21 points a game, 4.5 rebounds a game, a career best and nearly 4 assists a game, a career best.

Efficiency is a work in progress for Booker as he is shooting just 43 percent from the field and only 35 percent from downtown considering he is being asked to carry a heavy load on a Suns team that is fourth in the Pacific Division and is expected to finish near the bottom this season.

His head coach at Kentucky took to Twitter to congratulate Booker on the milestone.

For the Suns to win more games and be competitive in a very stacked western conference, they will need games where two or three players lead a scoring balance such as Booker and T.J. Warren, who teamed up for 70 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday in a win at home.

Furthermore, if Booker is to be one of those devastating offensive players, he will need to need to create buckets for his teammates more effectively. Even though he drives into the paint often, he will need to improve his shooting percentage when driving into the paint. Last season, he shot 41 percent on 5.8 drives to the rim.

“Scoring is a natural ability for him,” said Jay Triano, the Suns’ interim coach. “But I think he’s learning how to do it in the confines of everything that we do offensively. This year, we’ve already seen a jump in his ability to make plays for others. He sees the floor well. He knows, when two guys guard him, what he can and can’t do. He could probably get 10 assists, but I don’t know if that helps our team.”

He has been criticized for his lack of defense as the Suns were ranked 28th in defense last season and this year is not much better, but his teammate Jared Dudley has a theory for that. “A lot of defense is that, at a young age, people just don’t like to do it,” he said. Dudley is on to something as many are focused on making shots from the county next to them and forget the other element of the game.

Will Booker be a franchise-defining player or a complimentary piece? That question remains to be answered, but there is tons of potential in his game. The key to his success will be how does he adjust as the league gets to know him. This is his third season in the NBA and his future may hinge on how well he does this season or if he does not take the next step in being considered an elite guard. The Suns will finish near the bottom of the western conference, but he should not let the Suns expected bad season to dissuade him from making the most on a personal level.

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