Devin Booker’s success during his first NBA season translated well during All-Star weekend.
After surprisingly being left off the Rising Stars roster, Booker was a late addition for injured Philadelphia 76ers Nerlens Noel, and the 19-year-old took full advantage of his opportunity.
Booker scored 23 points for Team USA on only 13 attempts, and played a huge part in USA’s 157-154 win over Team World. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton graded Booker a B, noting the rookie’s only mistake was a late-game foul.
Booker, the only rookie with at least 50 attempts shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range, made 5-of-8 beyond the arc en route to 23 points. He gets docked a letter grade for Euro-fouling Andrew Wiggins to stop a fast break during the last two minutes of an exhibition game.
Booker’s success in the Rising Stars Challenge was an added bonus to his All-Star weekend experience. The rookie’s main purpose in Toronto was his participation in the 3-Point Contest, where he again, took full advantage.
Odds stacked against him, Booker defeated Houston Rockets James Harden and Los Angeles Clippers J.J. Reddick to advance to the final round.
The rookie held his own, but he could not out shoot Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and eventual champion Klay Thompson. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton graded Booker a B+ for his performance; only Curry (A) and Thompson (A+) received higher grades.
The youngest player in the entire NBA, let alone the 3-Point Contest, Booker showed poise and shooting beyond his years.
The Suns (14-40) will hope Booker’s All-Star weekend performance will continue to provide a bright spot in the second half of a disappointing season for the team.
Phoenix returns to action on Friday, Feb. 19 against the Houston Rockets at Talking Stick Resort Arena.