Suns guards Chris Paul, Devin Booker in top 20 of ESPN’s NBARank

Dec 9, 2020, 9:57 AM
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket past Andre Iguodala #28 of the Miami Heat ...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket past Andre Iguodala #28 of the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA game at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 8, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)

Devin Booker’s rise into the top 20 of ESPN’s NBA player rankings for the 2020-21 season isn’t a surprise.

The Phoenix Suns guard ranked 30th heading into last season, and thanks to another step forward, the first-time All-Star comes in at No. 17 this year.

He’s not even the top-ranked Phoenix player.

That honor belongs to point guard Chris Paul, who at age 35 made a leap from 32nd to 15th heading into this season thanks to his All-NBA Second Team 2019-20 campaign for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul averaged 17.6 points and 6.7 assists per game in his single season with the Thunder, helping the rebuilding team make a surprising playoff appearance.

Paul’s presence, however, opens the opportunity for Booker to make yet another leap if he can perform on the playoff stage, writes ESPN’s Kevin Pelton.

All-NBA honors are the next milestone for Booker, who made his first All-Star Game as a replacement and was even better in Phoenix’s 8-0 run in the seeding games (30.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, one game-winning shot). To reach the top 15 of these rankings, Booker will need to show his game translates to the postseason, an opportunity he should get with Chris Paul joining him in the backcourt.

Building on a season in which Booker averaged 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and a career-best true shooting percentage of 61.8 of course won’t be easy. A big bump in nationally televised games and the expectation that the Suns make the postseason, however, should only help build his status as a top-15 player.

Paul and Booker aren’t the only Phoenix players who made ESPN’s 10th annual NBARank list of the best 100 players in the league.

Third-year center Deandre Ayton made the leap from No. 66 heading into last year to 52nd this year after he averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.

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Suns guards Chris Paul, Devin Booker in top 20 of ESPN’s NBARank