Devin Booker appears to be tired of losing. The Suns guard, who only turned 22 late last month, blew off some steam with reporters nearby after Phoenix got blown out at home by the middling Nets, 102-84.
"It sucks," Booker said after the game. "We thought last game would be our step forward. We definitely took a step back tonight. We didn't protect home court, came in here and got blown out in front of our fans. It's embarrassing."
Booker scored 25 and hit a game-winner with less than three seconds left in a win over the Grizzlies earlier this week, but it was just a blip of happiness in another season of losing for the former Kentucky guard.
The Grizzlies game gave Phoenix just their second win of the year. After Dallas won on Tuesday against the Wizards, the 2-8 Suns now have the worst record in the Western Conference.
Booker says his teammates need to "hold each other accountable, and be OK with that," to improve on their performance so far, where they've lost by six of their first 10 game by 18-plus points.
"I think all good teams have that trust and chemistry, where they're able to get on each other and know that it's for a better purpose," Booker said. "For us, I don't think we have that right now. We're not comfortable with each other, we don't step on each other's toes, we don't push each other, and I think that's what we need to do."
New big man DeAndre Ayton, the top pick in the 2018 Draft, apparently agreed with the Suns' shooting guard. "Know who to yell at, know who not to [yell] at," he told AZCentral.com after the loss. "Know who to encourage. There's certain guys on the team -- you curse them out, you're basically cursing with them. That's what amps them up. Cuss me out. Like, why you not on me? Some guys, you have say, 'Come on man, let's go, let's go.'"
Through Booker's first three seasons in the NBA, Phoenix has won just 23, 24 and 21 games each season. It looks like more of the same for the 2018-19 campaign, where the Suns rank dead last in total net rating and offensive rating; although, with Booker on the court, the Suns score over 11 points more per 100 possessions than when he sits.
So, maybe his language after the loss produces its desired effect, but it's rare for a player in his early 20s, even one as talented as Booker, to move a locker room with fiery post-game comments. Better to buckle down more on defense, hope your teammates do the same, and try to lead by example.