Eddie Johnson: Suns’ Devin Booker deserves an All-Star nod

Jan 21, 2020, 2:44 PM | Updated: 2:48 pm

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri...

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

The fan vote for the NBA All-Star game has come to an end.

Will Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker be in or out?

Suns analyst Eddie Johnson thinks Booker deserves his first All-Star game appearance.

“He knows he has to win, and I think that’s what’s pushed him this season,” Johnson said.

“To play as unselfish as he has, and look and behold what’s happened in his unselfishness: He’s put up the best numbers of his career and he’s still scoring 25 a game … Since Christmas, he’s been the highest-scoring player in the league. And yet, he’s not forcing shots — so he is an All-Star.”

Since Christmas, Booker’s 32.5 points per game leads the league, and he’s made more than 53% of his shots.

Johnson isn’t sure he will get in, though.

The NBA released its third return of voting Thursday. Booker is eighth among Western Conference guards, two of which will be announced as starters. Coaches will vote on the reserves.

Luka Doncic, James Harden and Damian Lillard are locks among the guards to make the team. Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are borderline candidates who could conceivably beat out Booker; it looks likely the Utah Jazz end up with two All-Stars in guard Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert.

If Booker can’t beat out guards like Paul, Westbrook or Mitchell, he would have to nab a reserve spot from a frontcourt player like Brandon Ingram, who is in a similar situation of All-Star numbers on a non-playoff team, or Karl-Anthony Towns or Paul George, both of whom have only played 26 games.

Booker has missed out in the past in large part because of the Suns’ struggles as a team. Johnson thinks that could happen again with the Suns in 11th place in the conference.

“Unfortunately you’re put in this position where you’re started to be judged past your numbers and how your team is standing in the Western Conference,” Johnson said.

Booker is averaging 26.8 points per game, eighth in the NBA and fifth in the Western Conference, and shooting at 51% from the field, 36% from 3-point and almost 92% from the free throw line. He’s also averaging 6.4 assists, just below his career-high of 6.8, and 3.5 rebounds per game.

His 63.2 true shooting percentage is 17th in the league, fourth among guards and the best among guards under All-Star consideration.

“Devin’s been in a tough position in his short career so far … He is definitely an All-Star,” Johnson said. “A player that’s one of the best players in the Western Conference. Devin Booker is that guy. But people judge you past that.”

The All-Star starters and captains will be announced Thursday on TNT and reserves will be announced Jan. 30. The All-Star draft will take place Feb. 6.

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Eddie Johnson: Suns’ Devin Booker deserves an All-Star nod