Suns impersonation of Devin Booker’s Chris Paul is a sign of things to come with veteran general sidelined

All went well for the Phoenix Suns as they entered the All-Star break with the NBA’s best record at 48-10.

Their 48 wins were tied with the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (you know, the team that went 73-9) for the most in NBA history during the All-Star break, looking like the most complete team in the league.

Then they were hit with some brutal news during All-Star Weekend.

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Superstar keeper Chris Paul suffered a hand injury in the team’s final game before the break, which later turned out to be a broken thumb. Paul is expected to miss six to eight weeks, which will likely take him the end of the regular season to recover.

In his absence, All-Star guard Devin Booker was expected to take on primary point guard duties and that’s exactly what he did in the Suns’ first game after the break against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Booker slid to the point guard in the starting lineup to fill Paul’s void, and if you just looked at his last line of stats, you wouldn’t even notice a difference.

Booker needed just three quarters to collect a season-high 10 assists. He finished the match with 12 cents, but Paul’s tribute didn’t end there.

Booker also had a few clutch buckets to put the game aside, and he had a career-high six interceptions.

25 points, 12 assists, six steals and a win. That’s a very Chris Paul-esque line of stats if you ask me.

Booker is no stranger to setting the table on offense. In the two seasons prior to Paul’s arrival in Phoenix, Booker played a James Harden-like role for the Suns, being used as the team’s primary scorer and distributor from the shooting guard position.

He averaged 6.8 career assists in 2018-19, followed by his second-highest career assist average in 2019-20 at 6.5 per game.

When Paul came to town last season, the need for Booker’s passing became secondary, but we saw flashes of his playmaking abilities again in the playoffs.

When Paul was forced to miss Western Conference Games 1 and 2 due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, “Point Book” was called into action. (Okay, he stayed at range because Cameron Payne took over as point guard, but it all went through Booker.)

Booker had his best game of the entire postseason in the first game without Paul by his side, dropping a 40-point triple-double with 13 rebounds and 11 assists to give the Suns a 1-0 lead over LA. Clippers.

He consistently used his gravity as a scorer to his advantage, shifting the Clippers defense to find open shooters on the perimeter.

Expect to see something similar during the home stretch of this season. The Suns have positioned themselves comfortably atop the Western Conference playoff table, so there’s no rush to get Paul back before the playoffs.

As a result, Booker will continue to be the main point guard, putting on more selfless performances like the one in the first game after the All-Star break.

The 25-year-old continues to improve all facets of his game and it will be a spectacle to watch him grow in this new role over the last 23 games.

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