PHOENIX SUNS

The Ringer: Devin Booker has become volume distributor on Suns

Nov 30, 2023, 12:25 PM

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point basket during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Footprint Center on October 16, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The NBA community is well aware of Devin Booker’s ability when healthy. Or is it?

According to Michael Pina of The Ringer, Booker’s transformation amid the Phoenix Suns’ roster instability early on this season has made him one of the best point guards across the league.

The Suns shipped off Booker’s former right-hand man, Chris Paul, over the offseason and acquired Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards, forming a Big 3 along with Kevin Durant.

But it’s been an injury-riddled season for the Suns. The team has yet to play its three stars together.

While Durant has played in all but two games thus far, toe, ankle and calf injuries have limited Booker to 10 games. Back issues have limited Beal to just three.

Phoenix started 4-6, but the return of Booker after missing eight of the Suns’ first 10 games has resulted in the team winning seven of its last eight. The Suns currently don an 11-7 record after a loss to Toronto on Wednesday night.

What has worked for Devin Booker in 2023-24?

Booker has taken the reins in the post-Paul era.

The three-time All-Star is averaging 27.3 points and sporting a 60.1 true shooting percentage this season.

More importantly, Booker is averaging 8.5 assists per game with an assist rate of 44.2%, a drastic improvement over what the league has seen over the past three seasons, 4.8 assists per game with a 23.2% assist rate.

Per Pina:

The Suns are generating 126.7 points per 100 possessions when Booker is on the court and an absurd 137.4 points per 100 possessions when he brings the ball up the floor, per Second Spectrum. (Booker is dribbling the ball up the court 33.5 times per game, which is 4.6 more than his previous career high and 13.1 above last season’s average.) On a per-100-possession basis, nobody is creating more points from behind the 3-point line.

This Suns team is loaded with stars and can be dangerous when healthy. But given Booker’s history of making something out of forgettable Suns teams, this display of dominance is nothing new to those who’ve watched him closely over the years.

Nonetheless, this showing stems from his somewhat new focus on distributing the ball.

To better highlight how much has changed for Booker this season, he’s making 53.2 passes per game. That’s a personal high, miles above last year’s 37.3. And even when he wasn’t on the court with Paul the past few years, his volume was always way lower than it is right now. Booker’s shots per touch are at a career-low mark, and he’s averaging a career-high 394 dribbles per game, which is up significantly from last season’s 266 and the 200 he logged during his first go-around with Paul back in 2021. All this shouldn’t be a complete surprise, but the poise and general awareness he’s exuded without any noticeable growing pains have been truly incredible.

Despite a new head coach in Frank Vogel, an injury-prone starting rotation and a roster filled with fresh faces, Booker remains at the top of his game.

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The Ringer: Devin Booker has become volume distributor on Suns