Devin Armani Booker (born October 30, 1996) is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He attended Moss Point High School in Moss Point, Mississippi after spending his middle school years and freshman year at Grandville High School near Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game before spending one season playing college basketball for the University of Kentucky. His father, Melvin Booker, played for three different teams in the NBA.
On June 25, 2015, Booker, was selected with the 13th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2015 NBA draft. On July 13, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Suns, and in seven subsequent Summer League games, he averaged 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He went on to make his NBA debut two days before his 19th birthday, in the Suns’ season debut against the Dallas Mavericks. He became the first player in NBA history to debut at 18 years old after playing at least one year of college basketball. In 21 minutes of action against the Mavericks, he scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting in a 111–95 loss. While he began the season as a solid backup shooting guard off the bench throughout the early portion of the season, including starts on November 23 and December 21, a late December injury to starting guard Eric Bledsoe on December 26 against the Philadelphia 76ers led to Booker’s elevation to the starting line-up for the rest of the season. Before his teammate’s injury, Booker was producing averages of 5.4 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 14.1 minutes of play. His production began to increase with the move and his scoring prowess became a lot more noticeable throughout the second half of the season.
On January 2, 2016, Booker scored a then season-high 21 points in a 142–119 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Only Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant scored 20+ points more than once at a younger age than Booker. With his first double-double coming from a 111–102 win on January 6 with 17 points and a season-high 10 rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets, he became the fifth-youngest player in NBA history to record a double-double behind LeBron James, Andrew Bynum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and became the youngest player to ever do so in Phoenix Suns franchise history. On January 19, he scored 32 points in a 97–94 loss to the Indiana Pacers, setting a Suns’ rookie record with six made three-pointers. Booker became the third-youngest player in NBA history at 19 years, 81 days old to record a 30-point game, as well as the youngest Suns player to score 30 or more points in a game. LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the only two players who were younger than Booker to score 30 in a game. On February 10, Booker recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 assists in a 112–104 loss to the Golden State Warriors. On February 12, Booker scored 23 points in a close victory for Team USA in the 2016 Rising Stars Challenge. The following day, he competed in the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Three-Point Contest, becoming the youngest contestant to ever participate in the event and only the fourth rookie to compete in the 30-year-old contest, joining Stephen Curry (2010), Kyle Korver (2004) and Dennis Scott (1991). He made it to the final round of the event, beating out both James Harden and J. J. Redick in a tiebreaker event after the first round, where he finished third behind the Splash Brothers – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (winner).
On March 12, he recorded his third double-double of the season with 18 points and a career-high 11 assists in a 123–116 loss to the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first Suns rookie with multiple points/assists double-doubles since Negele Knight (3) in the 1990–91 season. He recorded his fifth 30-point game of the season (fourth in a month) on March 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Throughout the month of March, Booker led all rookies in points (22.4) and assists (4.9) per game. His sixth and final 30-point game of the season came on April 5 in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 34 points on 12-of-25 shooting. On April 9, with 16 points scored in a 121–100 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Booker reached 1,014 for the season, making him the fourth-youngest player to reach 1,000 career points, following only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, as well as the third-youngest during their rookie season. Booker finished his rookie campaign with 1,048 points at an average of 13.8 per game. He appeared in 76 of the team’s 82 games in 2015–16, a season that saw the Suns finish with the second-worst record in the West (23–59) and the second-worst record in franchise history. In addition, Booker made 51 starts and averaged 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, earning him praise from fellow NBA players such as Klay Thompson, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. He finished fourth in the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting and earned NBA All-Rookie First Team honors. He became the first Suns player to be named an All-Rookie Team member (either first or second) since Amar’e Stoudemire did so in 2003.
On November 4, Booker scored a career-high 38 points in a 112–111 overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans. He bested that mark two days later, scoring 39 points in a 119–108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He became the first Suns player to record consecutive games of 38 or more points in the regular season since Tom Chambers 28 years earlier. On December 13, Booker scored 12 points in an overtime win against the New York Knicks, thus reaching 1,490 points throughout his first 100 NBA games. In Suns history, only Walter Davis, Alvan Adams and Armen Gilliam scored more in that span.
On January 12, 2017, Booker tied his career high with 39 points in a 113–108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City. His 28 fourth-quarter points set the Suns franchise record for most points in a quarter. The record was previously held by Stephon Marbury, who had 26 in the fourth in 2002. Two days later, also in Mexico City, Booker had a second straight 39-point effort in a 108–105 win over the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record consecutive games of 39 or more points in the regular season. On January 24, he had 26 points in a 112–111 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, thus scoring at least 20 points in his 10th consecutive game, setting the longest such streak by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire did it in 2008. The following day, he was named in the U.S. Team for the 2017 Rising Stars Challenge. He was also invited to take part in the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge. On February 3, he scored 33 points and hit a game-winning 20-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lift the Suns to a 105–103 win over the Sacramento Kings. With 31 points against the Milwaukee Bucks a day later, Booker became the youngest player to score at least 20 points in 16 consecutive games. Booker did it at 20 years, 97 days. His 16-game streak is the second-longest by any first- or second-year player in the last 20 seasons—Vince Carter had a 23-game run in 1999–2000. His streak ended at 16 after scoring just 14 points on February 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Career highlights and awards
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2016)
SEC Sixth Man of the Year (2015)
Second-team All-SEC (2015)
SEC All-Freshmen Team (2015)
McDonald’s All-American (2014)