For the first time in a month, the Phoenix Suns were able to celebrate a win, this time at the expense of the equally-hapless Memphis Grizzlies.
In a game featuring two teams looking at the bottom of the standings instead of the top, Devin Booker scored 34 points, Josh Jackson added a career-best 29 and the Suns snapped a 10-game losing streak beating the Memphis Grizzlies 110-102 on Wednesday night.
San Antonio (36-26) played the second half without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, who landed awkwardly and sprained his right ankle midway through the first quarter.
Pau Gasol was also out of the game with a bone bruise in his left knee, and the short-handed Spurs could not keep up with the high-flying Pelicans in the end game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our group,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Under very, very tough circumstances, they keep fighting. As long as they believe in each other and keeping working as hard as they are, we’re going to be in good shape.
Booker is going to be a tough guard for years to come, but there is realistically only room to regress in the usage department. That has me thinking that his age-21 season will be the best one fantasy managers will ever see.
Jim McCormick: Wunderkinds who produce at a high level on the professional stage at a very young age do tend to eventually become full-fledged superstars. Booker is just one of 11 players age 21 or younger to average at least 24.9 PPG. All of the players on this list, save for fellow prodigy Karl-Anthony Towns, are already in the Hall of Fame, or are no-brainers for future induction.
Evidence of his growth is everywhere. Booker’s assist rate jumped by 52 percent this season and he’s No. 8 in the NBA in points per game on pull-up jumpers. He also ranks just behind Chris Paul (and ahead of Kyrie Irving) in pick-and-roll plays initiated per game. He’s essentially on par with, or perhaps even statistically superior to DeMar DeRozan. Well in possession of the keys to the Phoenix franchise, Booker’s ceiling is still years away — and it’s quite high.
But if you’re wondering why a young star is failing to scale the heights of the Player Rater, look at his 3s.