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Suns’ Devin Booker ranked just within top 50 of SI’s Top 100 NBA players

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Sports Illustrated released Nos. 50-31 of its Top 100 NBA Players of 2019 Tuesday, and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker came in at No. 50.

In his third season in the NBA, Booker averaged 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game, which was good enough to earn a five-year, $158 million extension with the Suns this summer. Only four active players averaged as many points as Booker in their respective age-21 seasons: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Karl-Anthony Towns, as SI pointed out.

The article commended Booker for improving his offensive efficiency in spite of the Suns’ organizational issues.

The Suns have thrown every conceivable monkey wrench at Booker (24.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.7 APG) during his three seasons: changing coaches, trading away veterans, tanking for months, and whiffing on high draft picks. The 21-year-old shooting guard has responded in admirable fashion, improving his overall efficiency and becoming one of the highest-scoring young prospects in recent memory.

While the rankings praised Booker’s improvement in efficiency, they did, however, criticize his lack of defensive effort.

Phoenix has had a worse defensive rating with Booker on the court than with him off the court in each of his three seasons, and he ranked outside the NBA’s top 200 players by Real Plus-Minus in 2017-18. If he played one-on-one against himself, the game would continue for hours because he would never get a stop. If he played for a better team, he would be hunted mercilessly in the playoffs.

Phoenix begins its 2018-2019 campaign at home Oct. 17 against the Dallas Mavericks, but Booker is expected to miss the first few games of the season. Over the weekend, Booker underwent surgery on his hand, and his expected recovery time is around six weeks.

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