The NBA has a superstar that not enough people talk about as being in the top tier of league talents, but last night he showcased that he belongs. On the road, to close out the defending champions, Devin Booker went ballistic — he dropped 47 points (a playoff career-high), 11 rebounds, eight three-pointers, was 15/22 from the floor, and did it all while talking his talk to the Lakers.
“Players like Book have a determination about them,” head coach Monty Williams said. “I’ve said this a number of times: He doesn’t run from the moment. And in this particular case, the moment was the whole game.”
Boy was it. He joined an exclusive list last night of players that elevated their game on the road. Players to post 47+ points on the road in Game 6 or 7:
Stars need a stage to perform. Last year, it was the Bubble, where the surprise Phoenix Suns proved that they were no longer NBA cellar dwellers. Booker averaged 30.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds last summer, going 8-0, but not making the playoff tournament. He hit game-winning shots, and he scored more than 27 points in seven of the eight games (20 points in the other). Booker had arrived.
Despite the dominance in the bubble and the addition of Chris Paul, people still slept on him and the Suns for the majority of the season. Booker was the seventh-highest scorer in the NBA this year, behind Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokić, Bradley Beal, Luka Dončić, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. That’s pretty damn good company to be in. Everyone on that list aside from maybe Beal is widely considered to be a league superstar (but he should be).
Heading into another playoffs, Booker does what he has always done — rise to the occasion. Just like the bubble last year, he elevated his game. While averaging 25.6 points in the regular season, he averaged 29.7 points against the Lakers, the league’s top-rated defense.
“This is the moment that he wanted,” Williams said. “I’m sure he’s looking forward to the next one. I’m watching him on the fly go from a guy who scored a ton of points, (and) now he’s turning into a guy who can lead a team in the playoffs and be in a different class.”
The playoffs are where stars are made. After sending LeBron and the Lakers home to an early vacation, it’s on to the next, which will be a hell of a series against Jokić and the Denver Nuggets. Booker’s star will only continue to rise. Gone are the days of the Phoenix Suns and their superstar not getting the spotlight — they’re here to stay, and so is Devin Booker.