By Lindsay Dunn
Devin Booker. That is a name you are going to hear a lot about, not only in the next few days, but years to come. The spotlight is on the 20-year-old guard for the Phoenix Suns as he made history on Friday night taking his game to the next level.
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 25, 2017
Booker scored 70 points against the Boston Celtics. At first glance you may think that was a typing error, but it’s a fact. In 44 minutes he scored 70 points. He shot 21 of 40 from the field, 4 of 11 from beyond the arc and a solid 24 of 26 from the free-throw line.
“I’ve played with some great shooters,” Suns head coach Earl Watson said. “Ray Allen, Kevin Durant. (Devin Booker) has amazing potential. His stroke is textbook.”
The 2015 13th overall draft pick is the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a loss. “I got in zone, I got hot,” Booker said post-game. “I knew I was going to have to lock-in and my teammates kept finding me. When I hit 50 they just kept feeding me it.”
The last player to score 65 or more was Kobe Bryant who poured in 81 against the Raptors in 2006. That was 11 years ago and Bryant was 28 at the time. On Friday night Booker also broke a few Suns franchise records. He is now in first for having the highest-scoring game in franchise history and his 51 points in the second half is also a Suns record for points in a half.
While Booker went 21 of 40 from the field (52.5 percent), the rest of the Suns went 18 of 46 (39.1). Only two other players scored in double figures: Alex Len (11 points) and Leandro Barbosa (11 points).
The former Kentucky Wildcat became a household name for non NBA fans when he took part in the All-Star Game last season and when rapper Drake posted photos of him on his Instagram and wore his jersey on stage.
“I first met Drake in college at Big Blue Madness,” Booker explained. “I know Drake and Coach Cal (John Calipari) are good friends and that was the year that Drake air-balled the three pointer in the layup line. Whenever I see him I always get on him about that.”
During the 2016 All-Star Weekend the rookie at the time went head-to-head against the ‘Splash Brothers’ in the 3-point competition. Curry and Thompson beat Booker, but it helped make him a household name.
“Coming into the beginning of the season I realized people know who I am now,” Booker told Pro Bball Report when the Suns visited Toronto. “Last year people didn’t know who I was so I was getting a lot of open looks, clean looks but this year has been different. They are putting a lot of good defenders on me so I have to take it to the next level. It’s more mental than anything. It took me a little to get used to it.”
This season he became the youngest player in NBA history to record back-to-back games with at least 39 points. He leads the NBA with game-winning shots leaving no time remaining this season. His big night has moved him up to 26th on the NBA leaderboard for scoring.
‘There are beauty points, but it’s been a long season, my teammates keep pushing me, my coaches keep pushing me. We are working together to get wins. I feel like we are making the turn around and that playoff push that we have been trying to make.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Booker is the only player in the NBA this season with multiple quarters scoring at least 27 points and is the first player to do so multiple times in a season since Stephen Curry had two 28-point quarters in 2015-16.
As of March 24th Booker has the highest-scoring game of the season, passing Klay Thompson who put up 60 against the Indiana Pacers in October.
Already taking his game to the next level before his big night, Booker leads the 14th place Suns with 21.6 points per game in just his second NBA season. The spotlight is on Booker to stay.