Devin Booker has needed time to develop as a playmaker with the Phoenix Suns, and now he is becoming an elite facilitator.
Devin Booker has been an elite scorer for years – no one can deny that. This is his 6th consecutive season averaging 25+ PPG, and he’s been relatively efficient throughout that span. He just put up his 2nd 50-point outing of the season, with 58 to close out the Pelicans on Saturday night. As a playmaker, however, Booker has needed development over the years, but he has finally grown into an elite facilitator.
While he averaged 6+ APG in his 2019 and 2020 campaigns, assist numbers don’t paint the entire picture. This year’s APG is at nearly 6 per game, and that’s in addition to his career-high in scoring volume.
Booker faced difficulty last playoffs when being doubled by the Mavericks, seemingly unable to break traps and punish the defense. He’s worked on this heavily in the offseason, with better reads out of doubles and in the halfcourt in general, and he’s become much better as the team’s primary ball-handler with the Suns going long stretches without Chris Paul.
Advanced statistics show Booker is taking his game to the next level for the Suns
He’s taken more on-ball duties than in years past and is delivering. Among starters, the Basketball Index grades his Passing Efficiency in the 99th percentile, his Passing Versatility in the 82nd percentile, and his Playmaking Talent in the 99th percentile.
His Box Creation (thinkingbasketball.net), the number of open shots created for teammates per 100 possessions, is at a career-high mark of 11.8 (10th in the NBA). His Passer Rating (measures quality of passing) is also at a career-high 7.2 (ahead of Jimmy Butler, De’Aaron Fox, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Donovan Mitchell, and several other stars). He’s creating advantages better than ever (evidenced by his uptick in rim pressure) and makes reads and decisions from these passes very well.
Booker has been a better passer in pick-and-roll situations and has also shown the ability to make some high-level skip passes. And his biggest concern has been addressed very well, with his passing out of traps and splitting of double teams being better than ever.
It’s clear that Booker has become a much better passer and manipulator of defenses, and that’s not to mention the sheer value he provides as an off-ball maestro and pull-up threat, where he remains the center of opposing scouting reports. His advanced numbers are better than they’ve ever been, reaching career-high marks in Basketball Reference’s OBPM (17th in NBA), thinkingbasketball’s OBPM (11th in NBA), dunksandthrees’ O-EPM (11th in NBA), 538’s O-RAPTOR (7th in NBA), and other impact metrics. Phoenix is also 2nd in offensive rating, largely thanks to Booker.
With an offseason of development and critical starters missing time, Booker has stepped up and delivered for the Suns, raising his ceiling as an offensive player. Booker has dramatically improved his reputation from being a one-dimensional scorer to becoming a well-rounded offensive threat in conversations with some of the best in the NBA. Despite all the chaos the team has dealt with, they’re still a well-oiled offensive machine, thanks to DBook.