Devin Booker has finally made that jump from being a very talented player, notching empty stats and constantly losing to one of the most elite players in the NBA, leading his Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Finals. In Game 1, Booker shined in the absence of Chris Paul and notched a monster triple-double, scoring 40 points alongside 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Even though these are his first Playoffs, Booker is showing no signs of fear, shining in the bright lights and proving he is much more than a scorer, averaging 29.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 5.4 apg, leading the Suns to eight straight wins. Of course, his play has commanded respect from around the NBA world, as every player, coach, fan, and analyst is admitting that Booker is amongst the best players in the world now.
Even the infamous ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith shared choice words about Devin Booker. While talking with Max Kellerman and Magic Johnson on First Take, Smith praised Booker by comparing him to the late great Kobe Bryant:
“Devin Booker is the next Kobe Bryant. I'm saying it on national TV. Devin Booker is the next Kobe Bryant. It is official. His first playoffs appearance and the brother is a No. 1 option, averaging over 28 (points per game), dropped 40 in a triple-double in his first game at the Conference Finals... The way he plays, he's an assassin. And guess what? This Clippers team, you need Kawhi back to knock that kid off.”
Stephen A. Smith, First Take
That is some pretty hefty praise coming from Stephen A., as he is probably a prisoner of the moment - but the way Booker is looking, Smith is not far off. Booker is doing everything he wants on the court, getting to his hot spot in the mid-range, knocking it down from deep, slashing, and setting up the offense. He stepped up as the number one option and the leader in the absence of Chris Paul.
When it comes to the Kobe comparison, you can see the similarities. Shooting guards with a similar build and skill set can do anything on the court to help their team win. That is no coincidence, as Booker admired Kobe in his younger days and established a friendship while the two played in the NBA. Kobe saw the potential in Booker early and immediately expressed his respect for the young gun, saying he stole his moves with pride in his voice. Well, now Booker is building his legacy, and we are sure Kobe is watching and thinking to himself: 'I knew it!'
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