Devin Booker is Here to Stay, Suns Lock Up Their Star

by Cody Cunningham

Throughout his three years as a Sun, Devin Booker has given Valley fans historic performances, thrilling buzzer-beaters and hope for the future. Now with a contract extension, he is here to stay.

“I’ve always mentioned since my first day here that I fell in love with this city,” Booker said. “I fell in love with the fan base and the dedication they show to the team.”

A multi-year extension not only keeps Booker in purple and orange, but also gives back to a 21-year-old who has given the Suns so much in the past few seasons. It’s truly a testimony to how much Booker has meant to the Phoenix community on and off the court.

Whether it’s assisting at St. Mary’s Food Bank by helping the less fortunate during the holidays or helping Valley kids work towards their dreams during Jr. Suns camps, Booker has been involved in the community since he first arrived to Phoenix.

Booker is a Valley resident and has proven that it is bigger than basketball as he has embedded himself into the community through his charity work and constant connection to Phoenix.

“I love Booker,” Stephen A Smith said. “This kid is a star in the making. He is special.”

In just three years, Booker has already made a permanent mark on the Suns franchise and, more specifically, the franchise’s record books. Just to name a few…

Not only does Booker hold the record for most points in a game with 70, but also with points in a half (51) and a quarter (28, twice). He surpassed the franchise record for most consecutive free throws in a single season after hitting 60 straight during the 2017-18 season.

Booker’s franchise records are impressive, but his overall standings in NBA history show just how special of a player he is at such a young age. He became the third youngest player ever to reach 4,000 points in his career, trailing only LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

“I’m going to be honest,” LeBron James said via UNINTERRUPTED. “If it’s someone who is under the radar right now that I believe is going to be a really, really, really good, all-star player in the league – it’s Devin Booker.” 

Since 1985, Booker is one of just six players to average at least 24 points and four assists in their third season. Each of the previous five would go on the win either NBA MVP and / or NBA Finals MVP in their career (Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade).

Booker’s numbers don’t only hold up due to his age as he is already holding averages amongst the elite in the league. This past season he posted career-highs of 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 43.2 FG% and 38.3 3FG%. He is one of just three players in the NBA to record these numbers or better, joined by two former NBA MVPs in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

“I love Devin Booker, man,” Durant said to Bill Simmons on a podcast. “He loves the game and he’s like a dog. He’ll talk [expletive]. He’ll like rough you up. He’ll get up into you. Better watch out for that boy because he is nice. He next, I’m telling you.”

To be in the Suns record books, amongst the leagues best and to do so all at such a young age is incredible to begin with, but that hasn’t held Booker from already placing his name in NBA history as well.

Not only was Booker just the sixth player to ever score 70 points, but he currently has the highest career-high out of any active player in the league. That 70-point outing earned him a greater career-high than the top two career scorers in NBA history and three of the top four (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan).

“I wouldn’t limit myself to 70,” Booker said. “I wouldn’t limit myself to nothing. I feel like I am limitless.”

Although the young star has yet to be selected to an All-Star team, he has not missed out on a single All-Star Weekend since entering the league. He has competed in both the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and JBL Three-Point Contest twice as well as the Taco Bell Skills Challenge during his sophomore year. After falling in the final round of the Three-Point Contest during his rookie season, Booker returned to competition in 2018. He lit it up from deep as he walked away with a record-breaking 28-points in the final round and took home the championship.

As Booker enters the final year of his rookie deal, this contract extension allows for him to now focus on what’s next in the Valley. And for Booker, that next step is playoffs. 

“I’m done with not making the playoffs,” Booker said. “I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs. That’s putting the pressure on myself that I need, that I’m going to take into this summer and I’m going to work that hard so it doesn’t happen again.” 

Booker is now the foundational piece for what the Phoenix Suns are looking to build on. His superstar potential is there and now it’s all about growth and support. With two more cornerstone pieces in Deandre Ayton and Josh Jackson added to the roster, the Suns look poised to be in a great situation moving forward.

The contract is signed. The foundation is set. It’s time to rise.