UPDATE: Devin Booker scored 33 points in 41 minutes to lift the Suns to a 118-110 win over the Knicks. Julius Randle was held to just 18 points in 38 minutes. The big difference was Booker took 26 shots to Randle's 17. What follows is the original report from pregame.
Julius Randle is King Kong in New York City right now, ascending to the top of the highest skyscraper in The Big Apple and overshadowing every other gargantuan figure who appears in what is now Randle's city.
Tonight, fellow All-Star Devin Booker gets his shot to knock off Randle and the Knicks as the Suns face their second New York team in as many nights. They lost to the Nets on Sunday despite 36 points from Booker and now face a Knicks squad on a nine-game winning streak led by Randle, who has been as hot as any player in the NBA this month.
The question is, who scores more, Randle or Booker?
WynnBET has both of their player prop scoring outputs set at 26.5 points for tonight's game. Booker is getting -105 odds to go over that number while Randle is an even-money +100 bet. That means Vegas is giving Booker the slight edge over Randle, with Booker's implied probability of scoring 27 or more at 51.2% to Randle's 50-50 odds.
That's somewhat surprising for two main reasons.
1. Randle has scored 30 or more points in six of the Knicks' last seven games.
2. Randle averages nearly four more minutes of playing time than Booker per game and is averaging more than six more minutes per game than Booker in April.
True, Booker scored 36 against Brooklyn yesterday, but before that he hadn't scored more than 26 since April 10 at home against Washington. He also made 4-of-5 three-pointers against the Nets. Don't see him continuing to shoot 80% from deep when his season average is 34.9%.
We know Booker can light up any court he steps on, but recent history suggest Randle is the play here. Not only did he have a day to rest after putting up 31 against Toronto on Saturday, but he's also playing at home, where he averages 2.9 more points per game on the season. Throw in the torrid scoring streak he's been on recently and the Knicks overall hot streak and it's hard to bet against him.
Now, you could choose both players, logic being Booker is just starting a hot streak. That's fair. The only warning I'll throw in here is in the Suns' three back-to-back games in April, Booker has averaged 17 points per game and maxed out at 24 points. He tends to play fewer minutes in the second leg of those back-to-backs and has taken only 14 shots per game in April.
Right now New York is Randle's city and everyone else is just living in it. That includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and any visiting player passing through. You don't mess with the King in his city and I don't see Booker being the one to knock Randle off tonight.