Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, Chris Paul on MVP watch list for 2022-23

Oct 23, 2022, 12:46 PM

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns stands on the court with Mikal Bridges #25, Devin Booker #1 and C...

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns stands on the court with Mikal Bridges #25, Devin Booker #1 and Cameron Johnson #23 during the first half of Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 15, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns backcourt is well-represented in writer Michael C. Wright’s MVP ladder for the 2022-23 season.

Wright listed 25 names, including guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, as players to keep tabs on regarding this season’s Most Valuable Player.

Last season, the two Suns guards finished top 10 in MVP voting. For Booker (No. 4), that was his first top-10 finish, while Paul (No. 9) placed top 10 for the 10th time in his career.

This year, Wright lists Paul as a candidate under “Veteran Superstars” alongside Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. Four of those six have at least one MVP in their career.

In his second season in the desert, Paul made his 12th All-Star team. He also led the league in assists per game despite the lowest usage rate of his career.

His 14.7 points and 10.8 assists per game marked his first double-double average since 2015-16 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Deservedly, teammate Devin Booker receives most of the accolades, but we too often underestimate Paul’s significant contribution to the team’s overall cohesion. The 37-year-old ranks third in career assists (10,977) and needs just 23 more dimes to become the third player to notch 11,000 assists, joining the company of John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).

Booker joins Jaylen Brown, Anthony Edwards, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson and Trae Young as “25-and-under candidates.” Though none have won the award, both Tatum and Morant cracked the top-seven last year.

Last season was a career year for Booker. The 25-year-old averaged 26.8 points and tied his career high with a 38.3 three-point percentage. He also averaged 23.3 points in 10 playoff games despite suffering a hamstring injury in the first round.

Signed a four-year supermax extension worth a reported $224 million in July after three-straight All-Star nods. The eighth-year pro turns 26 on Oct. 30, and last season became the fourth youngest player (25 years, 144 days) behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant to reach 11,000 career points (11,217 total) while finishing fourth in MVP voting.

The Suns won 64 games last season, in large part to key contributions from Booker and Paul. The two combined for 7.6 value over replacement player (VORP), as well as 41.5 points, 15.6 assists, 9.4 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game.

They also both had player efficiency ratings above 20, which were both top 30 in the league.

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