Devin Booker to Steve Nash: I never count myself out for big games
Even if you’ve been living under a rock in the Valley for the past five years, you know Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker can put the ball in the basket.
In the backend of a season that saw Booker make his first All-Star Game appearance, the guard sat down with a familiar face in Suns legend Steve Nash ahead of the Suns’ matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
The duo talked shop on a number of topics, spanning from the work he put in to hang among the top ranks of the NBA after going through his rookie season to being the face of the franchise.
And oh yeah, if he has another 70-point type performance in his DNA.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 10, 2020
“I wouldn’t count myself out but at the same time, I think that night was a really special night in my career,” Booker told Nash during an NBA on TNT interview. “Before that, I felt like I was playing some good basketball where my name should get recognition anyways but that kinda solidified it.
“I don’t ever count myself out from having another night like that again because I come with that same mental approach. I’m going to go after it every night.”
“The face of the franchise is a lot of responsibility, as you know,” Booker added. “You’re expected to lead every night, expected to perform every night. I try to hold myself to a very high standard in that regard. If you’re the face you’re supposed to be the cornerstone, bring it every day. It’s a challenge I take pride in.”
Through 64 games, Booker has put up 13 games of at least 35 points, while shooting 48.9% from the field, a career high. He’s also made opposing defenses pay from long range, making 36.2% of his shots from 3-point land on his way to 26.1 points per game (10th among the NBA). Booker’s free throw percentage is north of 91% (career high) and his still finding ways to get other players involved offensively, dishing out 6.5 assists per outing.
A big part of the heightened play for the shooting guard has been the addition of a facilitator in Ricky Rubio.
“I’ve looked at the game a whole different way since he’s been here,” Booker said of his point guard. “I think a problem in the past for me was having that on-ball responsibility and it’s tough being a point guard, you know how it is, you have to manage a lot there. That takes away from being able to go out there and be a killer. Ricky’s allowed me to do that. You see the peak in efficiency and I think it’s because of him.”
The stats are impressive, no doubt, but above all else, Book wants to pick up more Ws and continue garnering respect from his peer.
“I feel like from the players I do and that’s most important to me. Sitting down and being able to talk to you and you tell me that you respect my game means the world to me,” Booker said. “I know it’s going to come to a point where I start winning more games. I’m going to make sure of that and I’ll get whatever respect everyone else cares about. As long as I’m out there competing against the guys that put the same work in as me every summer, earning respect from those guys is most important to me.
“I haven’t been secretive of saying it out loud, I want to be a winner,” Booker added. “Every day’s going to be a grind, every day is a new opportunity to get better so I’m going to take advantage of those opportunities every chance I get and I’m excited for it.”