With the 2015-16 season concluded, Suns.com takes a look at each individual player heading into the summer. We’ll include a look back at some of his best highlights, his season in general, and what could lie in store heading into next year. A new player review will be revealed each weekday in alphabetical order. The player names listed below will become clickable links as each one’s review is published.
MORE REVIEWS: Eric Bledsoe | Devin Booker | Chase Budinger | Tyson Chandler | Archie Goodwin | John Jenkins | Brandon Knight | Alex Len | Jon Leuer | Ronnie Price | Mirza Teletovic | PJ Tucker | TJ Warren | Alan Williams
Bio: 6-6, 206 pounds, 19 years old
2015-16 Stats: 13.8 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.5 rpg, 42.3 FG%
Offseason Status: Under contract with Phoenix
Season in Review: The youngest player in the league played years older than his age. Thrust into a starting role due to a slew of team injuries, Booker responded with a combination of poise and assertiveness that earned him the respect of teammates and opposing defenses alike.
Booker didn’t play consistent minutes until after Christmas, and his numbers starting at that point were impressive for a 19-year-old rookie: 34.4 minutes, 17.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per contest. That stretch included six 30-point games, part of the fourth-youngest run in NBA history to 1,000 points behind LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
Perhaps even more impressive than Booker’s better-than-advertised scoring was his willingness and ability to pass the rock. He averaged 4.9 assists per game in the month of March, including an 11-assist, zero-turnover performance against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
The Next Step
The Suns hit a home run with the 13th overall pick in last year’s draft, and they are hopeful he will continue to rise in his sophomore season. That will start with something nearly every graduated rookie needs: more muscle. At 6-6, Booker has the size and skill to swing between all three of the perimeter positions, but he’ll need more bulk to be a true option against some of the stronger wings in the league.
His long-term spot will always be in the backcourt, where the return of Eric Bledsoe should greatly help his offensive efficiency. With the Suns’ other top scorers all out due to injury, defenses loaded up on Booker. He felt the effects, shooting worse than 40 percent in February and April while committing more than three turnovers per game over the season’s final six weeks.
All of those numbers are fixable with healthy teammates and natural progress. He will see and react to double-teams faster and better, and he will think a half-step faster when defenses rotate to him. Booker is just scratching the surface of his potential, and it will be fascinating to see how much he unearths next season.