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How real are Devin Booker’s wild scoring numbers?

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NBA: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker infamously scored 59 points in a blowout loss the other night, center stage in one of the most hilarious final minutes in basketball this season. He followed up that performance by scoring 50 for the Suns in a close loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Booker became only the seventh player in the modern era (since 1979-80) to score 50+ in back-to-back games. He became the second, along with James Harden, to lose both games. (Harden’s feat came in 2017.) This raises a question as to whether a player can be good enough to drop 50 in back-to-back games yet not actually helpful to his team’s performance.

It seems unlikely. The Suns are flat-out awful, and long-term Booker might not be so good that he’s a Harden-type figure for a good team. But the Suns are clearly better when Booker is on the court, and when Booker is taking most of the team’s shots. He’s 22. He has very little help. Kobe in the mid-2000s might actually be a decent comparison, though Bryant was winning All-Defense honors at that point (partially off of legacy) and the Lakers were competitive. But then even Kobe’s famous 50-point streak -- four games in March 2007 -- came with a 4-0 record.

The most likely conclusion here is that Booker is a really good scorer, the Suns are absolutely dreadful as a team, and Booker will probably score substantially less when he has some help around him. None of that means this Booker explosion is fake or that the stats are empty. It means that putting them in context is important in terms of looking ahead to what level of star Booker can be while having team success.

Scores

Blazers 118, Bulls 98
Warriors 118, Grizzlies 103
Pacers 99, Thunder 107
Wizards 124, Suns 121
Lakers 100, Jazz 115

Schedule

All times Eastern. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Magic at Pistons, 7
Nets at Sixers, 7
Mavericks at Heat, 7:30
Raptors at Knicks, 7:30
Nuggets at Rockets, 8, NBA TV
Clippers at Bucks, 8
Kings at Pelicans, 8
Cavaliers at Spurs, 8:30

Links

Fascinating arguement from Nekias Duncan: Trae Young is the true next coming of Steve Nash. Wonderful breakdown.

Everything about Chris Bosh’s jersey retirement was perfect.

Howard Beck with a big piece on the unlikely rivalry between Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. In the piece, Pat Riley suggests Wade was better than Kobe Bryant in the mid-2000s. Inject this right into my veins.

Ivica Zubac has actually made a difference for the Clippers. Nice work, Lakers.

Which awesome second-year player would you build around? I think Ben Simmons is the answer, followed by De’Aaron Fox, followed by Jayson Tatum, followed by Donovan Mitchell. But I’m not certain that’s the right order.

The Dwight Howard Experience didn’t work out in D.C., primarily due to health.

Nice piece on David West’s activism, with a beautiul Popovich anecdote.

Jordan Bell got suspended a game by the Warriors for ... putting something on Mike Brown’s bill at the team hotel. We don’t know what is was just yet. But The Athletic reports Bell has done this before.

A biomechanics expert explains Zion Williamson’s shoe trouble.

Folks, Lonzo Ball’s cover-up tat might be worse than having a defunct shoe company logo partially on your arm.

Which WNBA prospects stand to benefit most from a deep tourney run?

The story behind a viral James Harden illustration that I totally missed this week because I have somewhat successfully detoxed from social media. Now I have Fear Of Missing Out On Dope James Harden Illustrations.

Be excellent to each other.