Devin Booker among 3 Suns listed in ESPN’s top 100 NBA players list
Before NBA teams hold their mini camps or media days, there is an annual tradition that riles up basketball fans for the approaching season.
ESPN created its top-100 NBA players list for the upcoming season. Slots 50-100 were published on Monday, and on Wednesday morning, ESPN dropped its 11-30 grouping.
Three Phoenix Suns were placed in the top-100.
The highest is Devin Booker, who was ranked 30th in the NBA.
On the surface, this seems low.
Booker was the sixth-highest scorer in the NBA per game last year and had the 14th-most assists.
But the Suns’ guard was third in the league in usage rate at 32.9% despite some obvious kinks in his game.
He shot 32.6% from three which is well below league average. He was also third in the NBA in turnovers.
The Suns’ ineptitude led to Booker having to do too much for his team. He can be a dominant scorer and is an improving playmaker, but he still has ironing out to do as pointed out in Sports Illustrated’s assessment of him in its own rankings list, which ranks him 34th.
Booker is a high-level scorer who doesn’t yet excel at anything else… What playmaking he did was largely a function of driving the entire offense. If you control the ball and make any kind of effort, you can rack up assists. You’ll also rack up turnovers, as Booker did in droves, in part because he just isn’t a star-level passer quite yet.
ESPN’s assessment was more concerned with the number of wins Booker has led his team to over his career.
At some point, if Booker is going to be a star, he will have to lift the Suns to more than 21 wins.
Booker has not had a ton of talent to work with in Phoenix, but this year’s squad looks like his best supporting cast to date. The Suns now have an NBA established point guard in Ricky Rubio, promising center Deandre Ayton is entering year two, productive wing Kelly Oubre Jr. re-signed and the team has a semblance of depth.
This will be a telling year in evaluating how Booker leads a team.
Two of Booker’s teammates made ESPN’s list.
Ayton was picked 66th.
The 2018 number one overall pick finished fourth in points per game among rookies at 16.3 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton broke down his upside entering year two:
As expected, Ayton’s combination of size, skill and athleticism made him an efficient scorer… As Phoenix finds more playmakers on offense, Ayton should be able to improve on the 21% of the team’s plays he used as a rookie, becoming more of an offensive force.
Rubio was slated at number 84.
The veteran point guard has had a consistent career of solid defense and passing. He is not a dynamic scorer, but with Booker and Ayton on the team, he may not have to be.
Rubio is entering the season with a lot of momentum, as he performed exceptionally during the FIBA World Cup this summer. He won tournament MVP.
The Suns’ selectees on this list will get the chance to raise their stock starting on Oct. 23, when they will face Sacramento to start the season.