EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns’ Devin Booker feeling ready to go after extended playoff, Olympic run

Oct 1, 2021, 5:52 PM

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the seco...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of Game Two of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at Phoenix Suns Arena on May 25, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker was asked on Friday how he felt physically after getting home from Tokyo in early August, his unofficial crossing of the finish line on a marathon of a season that included a NBA Finals run immediately followed by a gold medal with Team USA in the 2020 Olympics.

After getting the question, Booker paused before smiling and laughing.

“That’s a great question,” he said.

Booker admitted he wasn’t in the best of shape before saying he’s all good.

“It was a lot,” he said. “Obviously, it was a lot of basketball. Honestly, I felt fine. Little worn down, but after a couple weeks of traveling I was ready to get back to it.”

Booker finished 13th leaguewide in minutes played last season at 2,270, and in the postseason, he was third at 889. Toss on a cross-planet flight to Japan and the 124 minutes he logged for the United States as mostly a starter and that’s 3,283 minutes of hoop.

As the man said, that’s a lot! And that’s before he came down with COVID-19 nearly two weeks prior to Friday when he made his training camp debut.

Booker made a good point that, in ways, it was good timing since his stint in the health and safety protocols happened now as opposed to in the middle of the season.

After losing his senses of taste and smell, Booker said they are coming back. He didn’t do much at practice on Friday and head coach Monty Williams said it’s unlikely Booker plays in the team’s first preseason game on Monday in Sacramento.

There’s no point in going too fast, and while Booker had been lifting weights and getting shots up at his home, he knows that the tempo to his ramp-up is key.

“Just making sure everything is strong and activated and ready to go, prevent injury,” Booker said of his mindset physically at the moment.

“We’re gonna be smart with him,” Williams said. “He’s had an unbelievably long year. The emotional toll is what I’m more concerned with. Physically, there’s so much technology, so much in that room over there that our people can do to help someone stay fresh and get rid of the bumps and bruises and soreness but the emotional toll is something that we’ve talked about as a team and as a staff that we want to make sure that we are giving guys the breaks they need.”

Williams said it was good to just have Booker’s presence around, even though the team has been in constant communication with Booker while he was away.

For anyone unaware of his work ethic, there’s no doubt that he’s going to be ready. Center Deandre Ayton is fully aware.

“Book ain’t ever missing, for real,” he said Wednesday. “Cuz you know once he come up in this building, we better be ready. Period,” Ayton said. “We gotta be ready because he’s gonna be ready. He’s been working. When I call him he’s always in his weight room doing something, touching the ball doing something.”

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