During his early years with the Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker had to play point guard numerous times. With the team lacking capable ball-handlers, Booker became the de facto PG. While the addition of capable point guards helped unlock Book’s scoring capabilities, it’s clear that his experience as the lead guard helped him greatly.

Case in point: the Suns’ first game since the All-Star break. This game marked the first game Devin Booker won’t be playing with Chris Paul in a long time, due to the latter suffering a hand injury. With CP3 out, Booker dug deep in his bag and channeled Jason Kidd to power Phoenix to their 19th win in 20 games. (via StatMuse)

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Two things stand out with Booker’s amazing performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. First and foremost: his 12 assists. With CP3 (and a few seasons ago, Ricky Rubio) on the roster, the Suns star was able to focus more on scoring the rock. However, it speaks volumes to Booker’s growth that he’s able to become the playmaker the team needs at times.

The more surprising part of this statline, however, is the six steals. The biggest knock on Booker’s game has always been his defense. Ever since his rookie season with the Suns, he’s been known to be a liability on offense. Booker may never become a lockdown defender, but the six steals show that he can bring the defensive intensity with needed.

Defense and playmaking are two things that Chris Paul brought to Phoenix when he joined this team. With Paul out for multiple weeks, the onus falls on Booker to at least try and replicate his mate’s production on both sides of the ball.