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2018-19 rookie survey reflects the Devin Booker hype

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, right, drives against Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

NBA rookies will make their fair share of mistakes.

Often, the first is before they hit the court, when asks them key questions about their new professional league and the year ahead. Only once in the last 10 years have the rookies correctly projected the rookie of the year winner.

Last year, the rookie class voted Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton as the expected co-winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year Award for 2018-19. Not quite.

Dallas Mavericks wing Luka Doncic took home the honor, and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was runner-up.

But this year from a Phoenix perspective, something else stood out regarding a more subjective query in the 2019-20 rookie survey.

It was the question of “Who is your favorite player in the league?” that revealed the most about this year’s Suns team.

Fourth-year pro Devin Booker, still just 22 years old, tied with Houston Rockets star James Harden for fifth place in the category.

Though Booker and Harden earned just 5% of the vote — that would mean just two players picked each of them — it’s significant that the duo finished only behind LeBron James (38%), Kevin Durant (20%), Kawhi Leonard (8%) and Damian Lillard (8%).

Paul George, C.J. McCollum, Pascal Siakam and Russell Westbrook also earned a vote. So did Jamal Crawford, who has not signed with a team after playing for Phoenix last year, plus very retired former stars Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett (It appears Suns rookie Ty Jerome may be to blame for the two-time MVP Nash getting a vote).

Maybe it’s nothing.

Or maybe the Booker respect among young NBA players is already there despite the Suns’ recent lack of team success.

What about Johnson and Jerome?

As for the questions where rookies were asked to evaluate their classmates, Suns No. 11 pick Cam Johnson and No. 24 overall choice Jerome came in third (13%) and fourth (8%) in voting for the pick of best shooter among the 2019 draftees.

Miami Heat guard and No. 13 pick Tyler Herro led the way with 33% of the vote, while Sacramento’s Kyle Guy was runner-up at 29%.

The Suns’ Jerome also tied for third (10%) among best playmakers, behind Memphis’ Ja Morant and Cleveland’s Darius Garland.

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