The NBA’s superstars love to proclaim that Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is part of the next wave to enter that tier, and he showed why on Monday.
Devin Booker – 46 points, eight rebounds, two steals
If we were to pull up Devin Booker’s family tree, we might find a microwave somewhere. When the 21-year-old sees a couple of shots go in, it’s terrible news for the defense. And the Philadelphia 76ers made the mistake of letting him make an open three mid-way through the second quarter. That was all Booker needed. He slashed to the goal and finished over Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Ben Franklin and anyone else the Sixers threw at him. On top of that, his mid-range stroke was buttery, and there wasn’t much Philly could do at that point. Since the 2015-16 season, 12 players age 22-or-younger have recorded a 35-point game. As of Tuesday morning, Booker is tied with Karl-Anthony Towns for the most with 12.
Kemba Walker – 29 points, seven assists, three steals
The Charlotte Hornets need Kemba Walker like humans needs oxygen. According to Basketball Reference, Walker’s plus/minus per 100 possessions is plus-24.1 — meaning the Hornets are atrocious when he sits. Because of that, it’s not a shock that they pulled out a win over the Orlando Magic thanks to Kemba’s big night. He missed the two previous games with a shoulder injury, and there were almost no ill effects. Walker came out of the gate firing and applied pressure to the Magic’s defense from the jump. His aggressiveness (14-of-14 from the line) made up for the jump shot that he left on the injury report (1-of-8 from three). Charlotte nabbed the 104-94, and Walker had his 200th career game with 20-plus points.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 40 points, nine rebounds, four assists
Sometimes, when you watch Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks play, there’s a semblance of the Cleveland Cavaliers when LeBron James was young. The organization has a budding superstar, but it appears that they don’t know the proper moves to make. With Cleveland, it was the roster. With Milwaukee, it’s the coach. Giannis’ 40 points were all for naught because Jason Kidd doesn’t do a great job of extracting effort from his guys. (Also, the Boston Celtics are incredible. That helped for sure.) Antetokounmpo did everything to carry the offense, but the defense was lacking severely. On the bright side, he now leads the league with three games totaling at least 40 points.
- Stephen Curry – 31 points, 11 assists, five rebounds
- Jrue Holiday – 34 points, six rebounds, four assists
- Jimmy Butler – 30 points, five assists, four steals
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