“Opened Book”

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns
Phoenix’s Devin Booker is ready for primetime. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The 2015 rookie class has really, really impressed so far. Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and Kristaps Porzingis already look like future stars and are the early favorites to take home ROY honors.

In the Valley of the Sun, however, UK’s Devin Booker is making a push for more and more playing time in Jeff Hornacek’s, run and gun offense. Booker, a 6’6 sharpshooter, has seen a spark in minutes over the past couple of weeks – and is producing accordingly.

Despite scoring a career-high 18 points v. Detroit on December 2nd, Booker’s best performance to date was a 14-point, 5-assist outing against the Chicago Bulls. On the road, and especially on the last day of a long trip,  it’s always interesting to note which rooks are able to remain committed and effective towards the end.

Booker’s case was a little different because he did not receive much time before the East Coast swing but he it’s a testament to his great work ethic and patience that he was able to stay ready and make key plays in a difficult setting:

D. Book NEVER hesistates to pull the trigger on his trey ball. He made a couple of second chance, game-breaking triples, made a couple of sweet dishes to open teammates, and celebrated “Hotline Bling”-style after Mirza Teletovic’s fallaway game-winner. Booker was very aggressive in the final stanza, helping the Suns win in thrilling fashion.

It was only a matter of time before Booker, the youngest player in the NBA (19), earned Hornacek’s trust. I mean…he’s shooting 71% from deep! It’s a small sample size (15 for 21 on the year) but three-point shooting is the one of most translatable skills from college to the pros – Booker will be elite by January.

If you think about it, his situation is a little similar to how Klay Thompson’s career started.

When Klay arrived in Oakland, the Dubs deployed Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis together while the long-range bomber worked to prove himself as a two-way player. Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, two highly talented, yet undersized guards, might not work out long-term, hence why Booker was selected.

Booker has the same framework and deadly burner to excel as a shooter and scorer but it might take a couple of seasons before the Suns deem either Knight or Bledsoe expendable.

That said, the situation could get a lot more interesting if Phoenix fully invests in D. Book as the two guard of the future.


-Jabari J.

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