PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Chris Paul, Devin Booker crack Sports Illustrated’s top 20 players of 2021-22

Sep 22, 2021, 7:00 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2021, 12:26 pm

After an NBA Finals run last season, Chris Paul and Devin Booker were named in the top 20 of Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players of 2021-22.

Positions 30-11 were revealed Wednesday with Paul coming in at No. 18 and Booker jumping to No. 16, joining Phoenix Suns teammates Deandre Ayton (No. 37), Mikal Bridges (No. 53) and Jae Crowder (No. 90) on the list.

Chris Paul fell four spots from 2021’s rankings despite finishing fifth in MVP voting a season ago.

SI’s Jeremy Woo took notice of the point guard’s spectacular numbers despite growing in age.

Chris Paul didn’t just revive the Suns and quarterback a Finals run at age 36: he also put together one of the most efficient seasons of his career, posting his best field goal percentage (49.9%) since 2009, shooting nearly 40% from three and a league-best 93% from the line. He’s staved off any serious physical decline thus with irrepressible acuity and competitive fire. He certainly doesn’t look ready to enter a late-career role player phase anytime soon. While younger stars, including running mate Devin Booker, have started to surpass him on our list, Paul’s all-around impact can still be every bit as massive on a given night. He is, after all, one of the best point guards ever.

The point guard averaged 16.4 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists in 70 regular season games.

Paul sits just ahead of Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving and one spot behind Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young.

Devin Booker jumped eight spots in the rankings to No. 16, one spot ahead of Young and slotted in order behind Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum.

SI’s Rohan Nadkarni recognizes Booker as one of the premier bucket-getters in the NBA but also gives a nod to the improved defense as a unit during the playoffs.

Booker’s supernova scoring talent finally coincided with winning in 2021, as he helped lead the Suns to the NBA Finals. Booker is a three-level scorer who makes up for his slightly less deadly three-point game with a killer bucket-getting prowess inside the arc. He’s adept at using his body to create space in the lane before burying you with off-balance shots. And when his pull-up is working, he can easily go for 40, as he did back-to-back times in the Finals. Individual defense will always be a slight question mark for Booker, though he did prove during Phoenix’s run to the championship round he can absolutely contribute to a great team defensive effort. Book definitely received a healthy bump on this list because of the team success he finally experienced for really the first time in his career. His next challenge will be to prove the Suns can sustain that level moving forward.

Booker averaged 25.6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists during the 2021 campaign.

Damian Lillard and Paul George rounded out the top 11 players with 1-10 coming at a later date.

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