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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.


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


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


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