Just past the halfway point of the 2015 NBA season, it’s already becoming clear that the league’s most recent draft class might unexpectedly be turning into one of the more heralded in recent memory.
Devin Booker’s emergence for the Phoenix Suns is part of that realization. Taken 13th in the draft, the youngest player in his class has proven over the past month that he was quite the steal.
With that, Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp put together his re-draft and ranks Booker as the fifth overall selection, where he would have been picked by the Orlando Magic.
He can barely buy cigarettes. Imagine what he’ll do buy the time he can drink.
He’s handling the ball more than he ever did at Kentucky, he’s running pick-and-rolls with surprising success, and while all this opportunity is partly a by-product of broader dysfunction in Phoenix, he gets credit for knocking it out of the park. All the added responsibility will make him better in the long run. The Magic would be ecstatic to add Booker here, which tells you a lot about this draft class. The 14th pick in the lottery would be a steal in the top 5.
Sharp listed Booker in his re-draft behind Karl Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, D’Angelo Russell and Myles Turner.
Since Booker became a regular rotation players following Eric Bledsoe’s injury, he’s shot 44 percent and 36 percent from three-point range through 23 games. There has been a drop-off in his shooting percentage to 40 percent since guard Brandon Knight was lost Jan. 19, but Booker has still averaged 17 points and 4.0 assists in 36 minutes per game.
Booker’s assist percentage has risen since Knight’s injury as well, from 8.8 percent to 19.8 percent, as has his assist-to-turnover ratio from 0.97 to 1.42 as he’s become needed as a playmaker out of pick-and-rolls.
So would the Magic actually have taken Booker fifth in this fictional situation?
It’s important to remember Sharp’s re-draft is his opinion, but Orlando did have the need for a perimeter player and went with 20-year-old swingman Mario Hezonja instead. He comes in 10th in Sharp’s re-draft.