Almost exactly a year ago, The Shadow League did a story on Devin Booker, chronicling his journey from overlooked but supremely talented player in Kentucky’s one-and-done superstar factory to SEC Sixth Man of the Year and top- flight NBA rookie.
Booker, the youngest player in the NBA at the time, averaged double-digit points in his first season with the Suns and really began to assert himself towards the end of the season.
Fast forward to March 23, 2017, the night Booker introduced his potential greatness to the basketball world.
He’s no longer a face in the NBA crowd. Booker’s 70-point explosion was the most points in an NBA game since Kobe posted 81 against Toronto back in the 2005-06 season.
Booker had 42 points after three quarters but nobody thought he had another 28 in the fourth quarter in him. It was one of those incredible nights for Booker, those rare nights for an NBA player when everything slows down and it feels like he’s back in high school again plying man against boys every time down the hardwood.
“It doesn't happen very often especially against a good defensive team like the Boston Celtics,” said Booker. “They made it tough for me in the first half but I finally got it going ...the rest is history The way our season is going right now, we are looking for something to celebrate."
Booker becomes one of just six studs in NBA history to hit that 70 mark; Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson are the others.
Like Booker said, Phoenix hasn’t had much to celebrate this season. They have the third-worst record in the NBA with just 21 wins. I wouldn’t go crazy celebrating 70 points in a loss. The NBA has seen some bloated scoring stats this season which coincides with the overall disinterest in playing defense.
It was, however, a signature performance for Booker who’s been opening eyes around the league for a while and leaped into official superstar status on Friday night with the help of a second-year coach in Earl Watson. In his post-game remarks, Watson told all haters and folks who have a problem with Booker putting up enough shots to drop seventy points and losing the game, to “do something about it.”
That’s Watson’s way of saying, “We have a go-to guy and we are going to ride him for now on.”
Looking forward to the 2017 NBA Draft and the possibility of nabbing the top overall pick is the best-case scenario for the Suns at this point in a miserable season. The franchise's biggest hope is that there will be some more top-tier talent joining the 20-year-old Booker, who will be a year older and better next season.