EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns G Devin Booker hopes to continue solidifying resume in NBA bubble

Jul 13, 2020, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives between Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) and gua...
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives between Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Phoenix. The Raptors won 123-114. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Suns coach Monty Williams often reminds his young team to avoid skipping steps. It’s why Phoenix enters the NBA restart at Disney World not worrying so much about its place in the standings and rather pleased to continue a culture-building process in what ultimately looks like a team-bonding trip on steroids.

Leading the Suns is, of course, first-time All-Star guard Devin Booker, who said on a Zoom call Monday that he’s at home in the bubble as Phoenix eyes a July 31 resumption of play.

“Honestly, we’re taking it day by day. It’s not about the lights being the brightest they can be. It’s about getting a chance to compete and keep solidifying myself in this league,” Booker said. “That’s my main objective, and I know that’s going to come with wins and the growth of our team, so that’s what we’re working on here.

“When I say solidify myself, that’s just keep bringing the competitive mindset and the competitive nature to the game, to try to take my game to new levels — try to take this team to new levels — that I have yet to reach. I’m trying to get there and trying to get there quick.”

Booker will begin play more than four months after the NBA stopped the regular season due to the coronavirus. He is averaging 26.1 points per game this year, 10th-most in the league, to go with 6.6 assists. His true shooting percentage, which takes into account three-pointer value and free throws, is a career-high 61.7%, speaking to his efficiency.

Williams suggested this month that the 23-year-old Booker could sniff All-NBA honors as the next step in his progression. Booker downplayed that’s on his mind.

What is? Taking Phoenix (26-39) into a bubble six games out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, he is committed to the Suns making noise. That could help him build on his reputation.

His NBA peers seem to have caught on to his individual talents.

“Nationally, media-wise, I’m not sure,” Booker added.

In Orlando, Booker has a chance to continue building chemistry with young center Deandre Ayton and the rest of his teammates for at least eight more games.

Maybe the national narrative about Booker’s fifth losing season in a row will change with more national writers being able to visit the Suns press conferences over Zoom calls. Maybe that’ll happen as the top reporters and players for the other top 21 NBA teams drop by Phoenix games with little else to do in the bubble.

There, it appears the All-Star is thriving.

Booker said he took about a month off once the season was stunted to rest up his body. Then, he began working out with his brother and father, keeping his bubble tight. Now in Orlando, he’s logging quite a few hours playing video games when not with his teammates.

There’s a lot of time to spend with one another outside those activities and basketball, Booker said.

All that adds up to an environment Booker likes, especially once he can adjust to the East Coast time zone. It’s an environment that appears to suit the Suns and their star guard, whose goals individually will be driven by how much the team around him improves.

Said Booker: “I’m ready for this bubble action.”

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