Kevin Durant praises Devin Booker’s ‘all-around’ play in USA win vs. Spain
Aug 3, 2021, 8:46 AM
(Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Devin Booker hasn’t taken long to gain USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich’s trust.
Four games in to the Tokyo Olympics, the Phoenix Suns guard might have solidified himself as a guy the Americans can lean on, and that’s because he did everything but the one thing he’s known for in a 95-81 quarterfinals victory against Spain.
The Suns guard went 4-of-13 from the field to score only nine points. But his battling in the paint to help an undersized United States team rebound, a diving save of a loose ball and his ability to, at times, run point stood out.
All that drew praise from teammate Kevin Durant, who has already been a public champion of Booker’s talents.
“It just shows you how all-around D-Book is,” Durant told reporters in a postgame Zoom. “Lot of people look at him because he’s such a pretty scorer, he can do things so effortless. But he is a savant. He wants to be an all-around basketball player.
“You seen it tonight, grabbing rebounds, going in mixing up with the bigs, switching, guarding out on the perimeter, making passes. Then he makes such timely shots for us.”
The Suns guard played 26 minutes, behind only the American’s all-time leading national team scorer — Durant played 31 minutes. Booker led the team with nine boards and co-led it with five assists and three steals, all without a turnover.
It’s been a quick acclimation for Booker, especially considering he wasn’t involved in any of the team’s exhibition games in Las Vegas as Phoenix finished its NBA Finals run in the playoffs.
And it’s stood out as other United States players not named Durant have struggled to click easily into very different roles from the ones they play on their NBA squads.
“Book is an all-around player who is only getting better,” Durant said. “He’s 24 years old, I want to say, and we talked about this on the bus: He handles himself like a 35-, 36-year-old vet. That’s only going to bode well for him in Phoenix going forward.
“Tonight was one of those nights. He (was) not shooting the ball well, that’s not the whole game. … He’s one of those players who can effect the game in every single facet. Special player.”