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Everywhere you look, you can see the signs — buds beginning to pop on the trees, scrawny robins looking to get their worm on and build up some summer bulk, Devin Booker pouring in points and Father Winter slowly releasing his tyrannical grasp on the Northern Hemisphere. Spring is in the air.
Over the past few years, there has been no more reliable indicator of Spring’s impending arrival than Booker’s pivot from “good young perimeter scorer” to “Hephaestus, god of fire and human volcano, laying wastes to the pitiful artifices of human basketball defenses.” Booker’s legendary 70-point performance against the Boston Celtics came in March, two years ago. Earlier this week, he dropped 59 points on the Jazz. In fact, of the ten highest-scoring games of his young career, six have come in the month of March.
With the inclusion of last night’s 50-point explosion against the Washington Wizards, Booker is averaging 33.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game this month, on a 60.6 true shooting percentage.
And the Suns, well, the Suns, collectively, have not been quite as hot. With Booker shooting lightning bolts out of his fingers, the Suns are 5-9, getting outscored by an average of 5.6 points per 100 possessions. Both the win percentage and point differential are an improvement on their season-long numbers but Phoenix finds themselves in the unfortunate position of having an elite perimeter scorer who can’t really move the needle that far on the rest of the broken roster.
If you had to look for signs of optimism, beyond a pair of 50-point games within a single week, the Suns have outscored opponents by 5.0 points per 100 possessions in the 195 minutes Booker, Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr. have been on the floor together this month. Add Mikal Bridges and it jumps to plus-9.2 in 64 minutes.
Phoenix has the offensive centerpiece in place and that’s the hardest part of building a contending team. Somewhere in the morass of potential and specialists behind Booker there is a functioning rotation. Maybe this March is when it finally comes together?
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