Isiah Thomas: ‘Let’s put (Devin Booker) in the MVP talk conversation’

Mar 22, 2022, 2:00 PM | Updated: 8:23 pm

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks to pass around Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic during...

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks to pass around Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 18, 2022, in Phoenix. Phoenix won 129-102. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Better late than never.

It took 72 regular season games for a big-name TV analyst to say it is time for Devin Booker to be considered the Most Valuable Player in the NBA.

“I’m going to mention Devin Booker in the MVP race,” Isiah Thomas said on Monday during NBATV’s Game Time. “Let’s put him in the MVP talk conversation because they are the best team in the league right now. He’s averaging 27-28 points a night … normally those guys are talked about as MVPs.”

Thomas has a compelling argument. At 58-14, the Phoenix Suns hold the best record in the Western Conference and the entire NBA. Even after Booker struggled to find his rhythm early in the season and dealt with a hamstring injury, he has played at another level in the past three months.

From January to March, the Suns shooting guard has put up 27.9 points per game, winning 28 of 33 games.

“Whatever the criteria we’re using, it usually goes by who wins the most games and who’s averaging the most points on that team, they get mentioned … He has met the criteria,” Thomas said.

Booker responded to Thomas’ claim, noting how those criteria always change.

Since Chris Paul suffered a hand injury, Booker has also stepped up in the passing game, with 7 assists per game, guiding the Suns to a 10-4 record.

Even with all the offensive production, the most overlooked component of Booker’s game comes from the other side of the ball. The Suns 106.1 defensive rating is the second-lowest just behind the Boston Celtics. Mikal Bridges is the name thrown around when it comes to the best defensive player on the team, but Booker’s performance has also been one of the best in the league.

“Probably sounds a bit nutty because of how he scores, but I’ve always felt he has the capability and should be recognized in the All-Defensive conversations because of the fact that he will guard his position and he does guard sometimes half-court, sometimes full-court out of the time out, just to change up the rhythm of the game, or show ‘I’m the best player and I can defend, not just score,'” head coach Monty Williams said in February.

Now with Paul potentially returning for the final stretch of the regular season, Booker has set up the Suns five wins away from marking a franchise best.

So what could stop him from winning the MVP?

Booker’s slow start to the season has had an affect on his overall statistics. During the 2021-22 season, Booker has averaged 25.9 points, still the best on the Suns, along with 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

Most of the leading players in the MVP conversation have better, basic statistics. For example, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is averaging 26.1 points, 13.6 rebounds and 8 assists per game.

The depth of his own team might also hurt Booker’s chance at winning the award. Before his injury, Paul was in the conversation as well and other players in the starting lineup and on the bench have made the Suns a complete team.

One other claim against Booker is this season is not one of his best statistically. His points and assists per game are the third-highest in his career and his 45.9 field goal percentage is the worst he has shot in four years.

Phoenix has not had an MVP since Steve Nash won it in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006 and the drought might continue. However, Booker and the Suns might be happier if they can bring home an NBA championship instead.


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers is defended by Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker...

Arizona Sports

Lakers’ timeout vs. Suns ruled correct call on NBA last 2 minute report

The NBA's last two minute report following the Suns' loss to the Lakers said LeBron James' timeout call was correctly officiated.

2 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Are players (finally) buying into the NBA In-Season Tournament? Looks like it to Ron Wolfley

Play on the court appears to have swayed Ron Wolfley and Luke Lapinski into thinking that players are finally buying into the NBA In-Season Tournament. But do fans agree?

7 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Wolf & Luke break down what when wrong in the Phoenix Suns’ in-season tournament loss to the Lakers

Not much looked like it was going right for the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals. Ron Wolfley and Luke Lapinski recap the game. Video: Felisa Cárdenas and Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports

7 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: No defending NBA referees after Phoenix Suns in-season tournament loss to LA Lakers

Usually one to defend NBA officials in past seasons, Dan Bickley dives into why poorly officiated games are bad for the league following a late controversial call in the Phoenix Suns’ in-season tournament loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Video: Felisa Cárdenas and Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports Photos: Getty Images

8 hours ago

Austin Reaves of the Lakers is trapped by Devin Booker and Kevin Durant of the Suns...

Kevin Zimmerman

Suns’ Vogel incensed at Lakers’ timeout by LeBron James as Austin Reaves lost possession

The Suns thought they were about to tie the game, but the Lakers' LeBron James called a timeout after Austin Reaves lost possession.

10 hours ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns dives for the ball against Jaxson Hayes #11 of the Los Angeles ...

Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns exit in-season tournament in controversial fashion vs. Lakers

The Phoenix Suns sure made the NBA In-Season Tournament eventful, giving it its first controversy in a loss to the Lakers.

18 hours ago

Isiah Thomas: ‘Let’s put (Devin Booker) in the MVP talk conversation’