Tha Sports Junkies 101

Breaking Down Devin Booker’s Performance of the Season

Devin Booker Craig Ruddy via Flickr


Devin Booker had the performance of a lifetime on Friday night. The young Sun had 70 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. What makes this feat even more amazing is the fact that it was done against the Boston Celtics, the team with the 5th best defensive efficiency in the NBA.

It was a David vs Goliath match, if David were also tanking and shutting down his best player. The Eric Bledsoe-less Suns fought gallantly, and Booker led the charge. He not only broke the Suns team record for points, but the NBA season record for points as well.

Booker also set team records for most points in a half (51 in the 2nd half), most field goal attempts in a game (40), and most free throws made in a game (24). He tied his own team record for points in a quarter with 28 in the 4th quarter of Friday’s game.


So how did he do it? Let’s take a look.


Shot Chart

Here is Booker’s shot chart for the game:

Devin Booker

You can see he was fairly efficient from all areas of the court. Also, his great shot selection is evident through 25 of his 40 shot attempts being taken from either the 3-point line or at the basket.


Shots by Action

What was most impressive about Booker’s 70 points was that he didn’t just score from inside and outside. He scored in isolation, in the post, in transition, from the pick and roll, coming off of screens, and cutting, among other areas. Booker was everywhere. Here’s a look at how he fared in each action:

Devin Booker

This data, from Synergy Sports Technology, gives us an idea of how diverse Booker was in scoring. He isn’t just a one-tooled player or sharpshooter. He’s truly a multi-faceted offensive weapon. He scored most of his points in transition, a typically efficient area in basketball. He struggled operating out of the pick and roll, but other than that he was great everywhere else.

You may notice the total points is only 68 and not 70. That’s because several free throws were from him shooting foul shots in the bonus, and the foul was not derived from him doing one of the actions listed above.

Clearly scoring 70 points is good, but is it better than you’d expect for someone with the same amount of possessions against the Celtics? Based on the Points Per Possession (PPP) the Celtics usually give up on each action, we can do the math and find out:

Devin Booker

The average player facing the Celtics would have scored about 47 points if given the same opportunities. Devin Booker scored 68 from these actions, so he scored 21 points more than he’d be expected to score.


Shots by Defender

If we look at who Booker faced on these possessions, we can also check to see if his points were skewed because he faced bad defenders. Here’s the scoring breakdown for Booker by defender:

Devin Booker



Booker abused Smart the whole game. He had mixed results against other defenders, but still, he scored 70 points. It’s almost more impressive that he scored on every Celtic that played in the game.

So again, we’ll look at how many points Booker would be expected to score. This time it’s based on the defender.

Next to each player is the defensive points per possession (PPP) they’ve given up on the season, the percentile they’re in defensively compared to the rest of the league, how many points an average player would be expected to score against them based on their defensive PPP and the number of possessions, and how Devin Booker did.

Note on league percentiles: Jaylen Brown being in the 88th percentile means that he’s better than 88% of NBA players on defense.

Devin Booker


So how do we assess him? How impressive are Booker’s 65* points? An average player would’ve been expected to score only 42 points. He beat that by 23.

*Again, the 65 points isn’t exactly 70 because of some free throws not being attributed to any individual player because they were not shooting fouls.


Conclusion On Devin Booker’s Performance

Overall, what Devin Booker did was incredible. He outperformed his expectations by 21 points if you’re looking at action and 23 points if you’re looking at defender. It truly was a night for the ages, and a great day for Suns fans. Any time Booker can flash the potential he has to be a superstar and the team can still lose and keep on tanking is a win for Phoenix.

Next up, the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. We’ll see if Booker can do it again.