Devin Booker’s All-Star nod gives Suns overdue moment, welcome distraction
It’s hard to remember sometimes that the Phoenix Suns are one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. The last few years has made that difficult.
For the way we look back fondly on the Charles Barkley and Seven Seconds or Less eras, we are going to do the opposite with the Ryan McDonough era.
The desire is that we can name it after the failings of the former general manager in a way to differentiate from the eventual success of the Devin Booker era.
At the very least, on the list of hundreds involved in the current stink on the Suns, Booker’s name should undoubtedly be ranked dead last if ordering is based on who is the most responsible.
That’s why Booker being snubbed from the All-Star reserves lit a fire under everyone that follows the Suns.
And it’s the same reason why the must-watch game of the year for Suns fans isn’t even one the team is playing. Booker was named an injury replacement for Damian Lillard in the All-Star Game.
In the same way where Booker was playing at an All-Star level two years ago and just about nobody noticed, the All-Star Game gives Booker a stage to showcase his talents that’s currently inaccessible in his situation.
He’s already played his one nationally televised game of the year with Phoenix, a crime against basketball fans that might not be aware of the player Booker is and has become, far beyond that guy who scored 70 points in a blowout loss.
While some of the discourse around the NBA involves your favorite talking heads arguing about the validity of analytics and if centers are going extinct, Booker has come on the scene fresh from the 90s, a mid-range assassin unlike any other in basketball today.
Players across the league are taking a majority of their shots at the rim or from three-point range because that’s what the numbers say to do. To the delight of boomers everywhere, that’s not Booker.
He’s taking an absurd 45% of his shots from the mid-range, and his 46% shooting from there is one of the highest marks around, just like the volume.
Booker is making a redonkulous 55.6% on his two-pointers this year while averaging 26.4 points per game.
If Booker maintains above 25 a night on 53% shooting or better on twos, he will become only the fifth guard in NBA history to reach those qualifiers at least twice, joining James Harden, George Gervin, Stephen Curry and Michael Jordan, per Basketball-Reference.
Jordan is the only guy to do it more than three times — five for him — and Booker is 23 years old. And mind you, he’s at this jaw-dropping efficiency with the spacing that continuously working around poor shooters does not provide.
Booker is one of the league’s next stars, and I don’t even think the league knows it yet. Weekends like the one coming up will help him get there.
He’s the sole reason that there has been any semblance of hope for the Suns. He’s why any good fortune can be attached to the franchise’s future.
Booker has more than earned this recognition, and it’s why the Valley sports community will all come together proudly to watch him get the shine he so absolutely deserves.
And they don’t have to worry how much he’ll soak up the experience. As a lover of the game and its history more than most who play it at the highest level, Booker is going to be a sponge in LeBron James’ locker room and take in every nugget he can. He lives for that type of stuff.
That’s what has made him so great to this point, what got him to this point and what will propel him to the next point.
It’s also why we always feel that chill that comes over us every once in a while when we look up to see the cloud of his potential departure continuing to hang over us. The cloud that won’t go away until the Suns fix enough around him and give Booker the tools necessary to get where he wants to be.
Booker deserves 100% credit for saying only the good things and having no complaints leak out, but we pulled off the driveway to our eventual destination as soon as it was evident he had All-Star Games and All-NBA accolades in his future years ago. His greatness is as certain as the Suns’ need to repair their own demise, and guys like that don’t stick around on 20-40 win teams.
For the first time since we started going down that path, however, with the cloud hovering over us along the way, we can pull off the road for a quick rest stop in clear skies and be happy for our guy getting his due.