Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker joins elite company in reaching 10K career points

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  • Devin Booker
    Devin Booker
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Jeff Hornacek
    Jeff Hornacek
    American basketball player and coach
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Isaiah Roby (22) and guard Aaron Wiggins, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns won 115-97.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Isaiah Roby (22) and guard Aaron Wiggins, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns won 115-97.

BOSTON — Devin Booker was just messing around with Jeff Hornacek.

No really, he really was.

After becoming the seventh-youngest NBA player to reach 10,000 career points, Booker joked he’d have many more buckets had Hornacek played him more in his first season in Phoenix.

“If Hornacek had put me in a little bit more, I should be at about 12 (thousand points) right now,” said a smiling Booker.

Booker reached the milestone on a 38-point night in Wednesday’s 115-97 win over Oklahoma City before a sellout crowd of 17,071 at Footprint Center.

“The thing you love about Book is he’s a fierce competitor and he’s fearless,” said Suns lead assistant Kevin Young, Phoenix's acting head coach in place of Monty Williams (health and safety protocols).

“Every shot he shoots, he thinks it’s going in and he’s still able to do it within the confines of the team. He made some huge shots tonight and to be able make some big shots and hit that milestone, it’s just what he does.”

Booker now returns to the place he scored a career-high 70 when the Suns (27-7) begin a three-game road trip New Year’s Eve against the Celtics (16-19), losers of their last three games..

"Can't win them all without winning the first one," Booker said. "It's what we always say."

The Suns' franchise talent put himself in elite company — the six players to reach the milestone before him are either in the Hall of Fame or will be first-ballot inductees:

  1. LeBron James (Feb. 27, 2008) 23 years, 59 days

  2. Kevin Durant (Nov. 1, 2012) 24 years, 33 days

  3. Kobe Bryant (March 5, 2003) 24 years, 194 days

  4. Carmelo Anthony (Feb. 4, 2009) 24 years, 251 days

  5. Tracy McGrady (Feb. 20, 2004) 24 years, 272 days

  6. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Jan. 20, 2020) 25 years, 45 days

  7. Devin Booker (Dec. 29, 2021) 25 years, 60 days

“Honestly, this one means a lot,” Booker said as he needed just four points Wednesday to reach 10,000. “10K is better than five, six, seven. I feel like it’s a real milestone that I hit.”

Booker came into the league as the 13th overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Kentucky with an offensive skill set and mindset, but didn't play major minutes early and was finding his way in his first NBA season under Hornacek.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots a 3-pointer over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Ty Jerome, middle, center Mike Muscala (33) and guard Aaron Wiggins (21) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns won 115-97.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots a 3-pointer over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Ty Jerome, middle, center Mike Muscala (33) and guard Aaron Wiggins (21) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns won 115-97.

Things changed when Hornacek was fired and replaced by assistant Earl Watson, who was his coach when Booker scored 70 at TD Garden in his second NBA season.

Now in his seventh NBA season, the two-time All-Star finds appreciation in the entire journey. He went from years and years of scoring, but losing, to reaching last season’s NBA Finals in his first playoff run.

“Truly grateful to be in that position at a young age,” said the now 25-year-old Booker, who thanked his Suns coaches — Hornacek, Watson, Jay Triano, Igor Kokoskov and Williams.

“A lot of praise to those guys for trusting a young kid and letting him play through mistakes. As a young-un’, everybody doesn’t get that opportunity. I got to be thrown in the fire and even my vets, my teammates. Passing the ball to an 18-year-old. That’s not easy to do and it’s not common in the NBA.”

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns' Devin Booker joins elite company in reaching 10K career points

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