Devin Booker
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker set a new contest record in the 2018 NBA Three-Point Contest this season. (Chris Pizzello/ Associated Press)

Devin Booker is a young star in the making. He was able to win the 2018 KIA NBA Three-Point Shooting Contest and is widely regarded as a great shooter. Booker’s team, the Phoenix Suns, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010. His development as a player is a key to the future success of the franchise. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at his shooting numbers from the 2017-18 NBA season.

Devin Booker was the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by Phoenix. Coming from the University of Kentucky where he averaged 10 points, two rebounds, and 1.1 assists, Booker was not expected to be a great NBA player. Fast forward to 2018 and he is now looked at as one of the best young players in the league.

Booker has played three seasons with the Suns and has improved each year. During his rookie season, he averaged 13.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Now, Booker has seen his numbers rise to 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 2018.

On top of seeing his numbers rise, Booker has gathered accolades. He was selected to the 2015-16 All-Rookie team and won the 2018 NBA three-point contest. Oh, and he also scored 70 points in one game against the Boston Celtics in 2017.

Because he plays for the Suns, his season is already over. They finished with the worst record in the league (21-61) and found themselves out of playoff contention early.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take any good away from the season Booker had. Let’s take a closer look at Booker and his season; specifically, his various shooting percentages.

How well did Devin Booker shoot the ball this season?

Booker is a great player, but he is known for being a great scorer more than anything else. Like mentioned earlier, he averaged 24.9 points per game this season, which was the eighth best average in the league. With that being said, let’s first take a look at his overall field goal percentage.

Booker shot 43.2 percent from the field this season on 19.5 shots per game. This was slightly higher than his previous two seasons, where he shot 42.3 percent from the field both times. Booker also had a three-point percentage of 38.3 percent, which is higher than last season where he shot 36.3 percent. It is also worth noting that he was a sensational 87.8 percent free throw shooter.

These are just the basic field goal percentages for Booker, but when you dive deeper you see how efficient he is shooting the ball. His effective field goal percentage this season was 50.1 percent while his true shooting percentage was 56.1 percent. Both of those are solid numbers, especially for a high volume scorer like Booker.

If you go even deeper, we can find out where Booker really shines when shooting the ball. Thanks to Basketball-Reference, we can dissect what shots Booker really excels at, as well as find out what shots he needs to improve on.

Shots from 0-3 feet:

Let’s start with the shortest distance, which is his shooting percentage on shots zero to three feet from the basket. This is usually the distance that many people look at as easy points and Booker took advantage of them this season. He managed to post a percentage of 61.1 percent, a tidy figure for a guard.

Shots from 3-10 feet:

Moving forward, we can take a look at his shooting percentage on shots from three to 10 feet from the basket. This is where we start to see a decrease as he made 35.1 percent of his shots from this distance. Last season he was able to capitalize on 44.3 percent of these shots, and his rookie season fell between the two.

What does this mean? Two things. It does show that Booker had a bad year from this distance, which has to do a lot with the Suns’ awful spacing. Playing with Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler, and Alex Len makes it nearly impossible to finish in close. But because Booker shot a career low from this distance, it is likely that he had a down year as well, meaning he could be a better finisher from this distance next year. That could make him even more dangerous.

Shots from 10-16 feet:

As far as his shots from 10-16 feet go, he was able to shine. He posted a field goal percentage of 40 percent on these shots on, with roughly 17.6 percent of his field goals attempted from this distance. These shots are statistically terrible to take, but if the shot clock is winding down and you need to chuck something up, a 40 percent mid-range look isn’t horrible. Booker has proven that he can be a tough shot maker, so his mid-distance looks will never be a horrible idea for Phoenix.

Shots from 16 to the three-point line:

For his long twos, he saw a significant increase in his percentages from his previous two years. This year he was able to make 45.1 percent of these shots while last year he only made 38.1 percent. This was interesting because it proved how deadly of a shooter he is from deep. This is also fascinating because of his three-point percentage. For most guys, taking a step backward and launching a three is a statistically way better shot than a long two. While that is the case for Booker, it is substantially less the case than it is for many other players; he drops in .902 points per shot on long twos versus 1.149 points per shot on threes. Obviously, you want him taking the three given those numbers, but the point is that the gap between the two figures is much smaller than it is more many other players. The long two isn’t an awful look for Devin Booker.

It is also worth noting that he shot a rather impressive 41.9 percent from three when taking his shot in the corners. Compared to James Harden’s 32.7 percent shooting from that area, Booker was able to hit 9.2 percent more of these shots than the leader of the 2018 MVP race.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, it means that Devin Booker is a great shooter just like he the narrative says. We have seen him improve in some aspects of scoring, like from deep and around the rim, but we also saw that he still has room for improvement in the future. And if he is able to continuously improve, the sky is the limit for this young star.

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