When you haven’t made the playoffs in five years chances are you have a number of holes to fill.
So when the Phoenix Suns selected Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker with the 13th pick in the draft Thursday night it wasn’t much of a surprise as the dominos fell in an unpredictable first round. Ryan McDonough, Jeff Hornacek and the franchise got an up-close look at the 18-year-old when he opened his NBA workout tour in Phoenix drawing positive reviews from the Suns.
The 6-6, 206-pounder who averaged 10 points a game and was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year after just one season in Lexington joins fellow UK players Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin in Phoenix.
“I talked to [Bledsoe] a little bit,” Booker said. “He said ‘we could use another Kentucky guy, a knock-down shooter around here.’ The whole backcourt’s Kentucky…I like the situation here.”
He was arguably the purest shooter in the draft connecting on over 41% of his three-point attempts in 38 games last season.
— Shot Analytics (@ShotAnalytics) June 26, 2015
“He’s the best shooter in the draft,” Hornacek told the assembled media. “That’s obviously something that we need.”
Many, including Hornacek, is wise beyond his years called “very mature for an 18-year-old” according to his new head coach. He believed Booker would end up going ninth to Charlotte.
He’s also not one-dimensional according to one of the most well-respected voices in college basketball.
“Devin Booker can really shoot the ball but he’s more than that,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said moments after the pick. “He’s a way better athlete than people think. He really is a young Klay Thompson.”
So does Booker agree with the comparison?
“Klay has already proven himself,” he said. “I need to prove myself.”
Booker’s father, Melvin, played 32 games in the NBA in the mid-90’s with the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. He averaged just over five points per game.