At just 24 years old, Devin Booker has long been touted as a future superstar in the NBA, but if the 2021 playoffs are anything to go by, the Phoenix Suns' franchise guy has well and truly arrived.
A two-time All-Star, owner of a 70-point game, individual accolades are not in shortage for Booker, but team success has remained elusive, until now.
TAKEAWAYS: Paul, Booker combine as Suns complete sweep
Alongside veteran Chris Paul, Booker has powered the team that drafted him to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010, in his first appearance in the playoffs no less.
"I've been waiting on this for a really long time, just playoff basketball in general," Booker said post-game.
"A lot of people have been saying I haven't played any meaningful basketball and I'm not ready for that, this is my time to prove it."
Devin Booker in closeout games this playoffs:- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 14, 2021
Absolute monster. pic.twitter.com/xcZncTMg7I
And prove it he has. First taking out LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, before sweeping the MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in the second round.
In each of those series, the Suns have faced the prospect of closing things out on the road and they're 2-for-2, with Booker elevating his game with the stakes on both occasions.
After dropping 47 points in the Suns' first-round closeout game at STAPLES Center, Booker was at his offensive best in Game 4 against the Nuggets, dropping 34 points, 11 rebounds and four assists - his fifth 30-point game this post-season.
He has now scored 81 combined points in two closeout games this post-season.
Book fills the cup in #PhantomCam. 🥤@Suns 33@nuggets 27- NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2021
2Q on TNT pic.twitter.com/5UcaU7S9Ag
"He's not afraid of the moment, that's the deal," Suns head coach Monty Williams said of Booker post-game.
"I've watched him for two years work his tail off so he can be ready for this moment and this stage, he's fearless...his fearlessness helps us on the big stage and it has throughout these playoffs."
While Paul is in his 13th playoff run, you can hardly tell this is Booker's first post-season, with the Suns backcourt a picture of consistency through the first two rounds. In Game 4 against the Nuggets, they became the first Suns teammates to each score 30+ in a playoff game since Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire in 2005.
After going 121-280 in his first five NBA seasons and being routinely seen as an 'empty stats on a bad team' guy, Booker is now heading to the Conference Finals in his first playoff appearance, stepping up in the biggest moments.
In his first real NBA test, it's safe to say Booker is passing with flying colours.
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