Basketball players got the opportunity to spend time with Phoenix Suns legend Charles Barkley at the Right To Play clinic on June 4. The clinic is an annual event bringing together thousands of children from around the world to play basketball in their backyard and learn the importance of discipline, discipline and more discipline.
Devin Booker, the starting shooting guard for the Phoenix Suns, got his first taste of NBA basketball when he was drafted at number 13 last year. Since then, Booker has been a key player for the Suns, helping them get back to the playoffs after missing cut last year.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has been surrounded by impressive veterans in his six NBA seasons. He learned from guys like Tyson Chandler, Leandro Barbosa, Ricky Rubio and now future Hall of Fame member Chris Paul. As he grew from a late lottery player to a star scorer for the Suns, Booker blamed a player around him for teaching him how to be a professional: Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA’s greatest female athlete, Diana Taurasi.
Devin Booker became an NBA superstar
Devin Booker | Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Booker, the son of a former NBA player, played one year at Kentucky before signing up for the NBA Draft in 2015. His time under John Calipari was relatively unimpressive on a team that included future #1 Karl-Anthony Towns. Booker averaged 10 points for the Wildcats, with 1.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game. The Suns took a gamble by acquiring the 6-foot-6 shooting guard at No. 13, even though NBA teams didn’t think Booker was the best prospect in the draft. Teams chose players like Jahlil Okafor, Mario Hezonja and Emmanuel Mudiay over Booker and his three teammates from Kentucky: Townes, Willie Cowley-Stein and Trey Lyles. Booker quickly rewarded the Suns for being selected to the rookie team. In the following years, he became one of the league’s top scorers, scoring a whopping 70 points per game in 2017. He has made the All-Star Team twice in his career and is averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds with a 57.1 shooting percentage.
Booker attributes part of his development to watching the work of the greatest of all time, WNBA legend Diana Taurasi
. Until Chris Paul joined the Suns for the 2020-21 season, there was never a true NBA superstar in Booker’s locker room. However, he trained in the same gym as WNBA legend Diani Taurasi and his work ethic was passed on to the young star. Booker told Insider in a recent interview: Being in the locker room and gym at the same time as [Mercury] and seeing Diana take care of her business, weights and routine helped me develop my game, skills and abilities off the field. He certainly picked a good model. Taurasi is arguably the best basketball player of all time. She is the top all-time scorer in WNBA history with 8,994 points and won three NCAA titles at UConn and two WNBA titles. The playmaker has also won numerous individual and team awards while playing abroad. Booker says she also benefited from interacting with other WNBA All-Star players on the Mercury team. Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins-Smith also live in the same building as the Suns Booker.
Booker needs to make another move to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2021 NBA playoffs
The 2021 NBA postseason will be Booker’s first postseason experience. After finishing second in the Western Conference during the regular season, the Suns were rewarded with an unenviable game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Booker and the Suns won the first game. After Paul’s injury, however, the Lakers won the next two games. Paul rebounded in Game 4, but Lakers big man Anthony Davis was unavailable and the Suns evened the series before Game 5. Booker is averaging 25.3 points, 5.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per series. With the team’s longtime leader still ill, the shooting guard will have to give it his all if Phoenix wants to compete with the Lakers and beyond. If Booker can channel his inner Diana Taurasi, the Suns have a good chance. All stats courtesy of Basketball ReferenceandSports Reference EPILOGUE: Chris Paul has lost 11 consecutive playoff games under Scott Foster, and he’s clearly not happy