Devin Booker not a given to make NBA All-Star Game as reserve

Feb 2, 2023, 9:19 AM

Devin Booker’s participation in 29 of the Phoenix Suns’ 53 games heading into Thursday can be summarized like so:

Phoenix is 18-10 with him playing, not counting a four-minute stint to begin a Christmas Day loss, his last game before being shut down.

It’s 9-16 without him.

A rotating door of other Suns injuries makes it hard to line up just how much Phoenix has missed him, but before hamstring and groin issues cropped up in December, Booker was firmly in the very, very early MVP race, granted, one that included anywhere from 5-8 candidates.

Booker has now missed 19 games in a row due to a groin injury, though he reportedly could return as soon as next week.

For the year, the three-time All-Star and 2022 All-NBA First Team pick averaged a career-high 27.1 points to go with 5.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds.

With the NBA All-Star reserves set to be named during TNT’s telecast on Thursday, Booker’s health remains the main reason he is at risk of not being picked by NBA coaches to make the All-Star Game.

Here’s a look around the internet at who is picking Booker as an All-Star reserve ahead of the official determination.

The Athletic’s John Hollinger – No

At the very least, three backcourt reserve spots in the West are obvious: Ja Morant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Damian Lillard.

From the durability club, the next-best candidates are De’Aaron Fox and Edwards; I don’t think a reasonable person would choose either over the best of the half-season club (Leonard, Davis or Booker) to start a playoff series. Unlike Sabonis and Markkanen, Fox’s and Edwards’ 2022-23 half-season performances haven’t been quite so overwhelming for me to overlook that. Paul George is somewhere between the two poles; he’s missed games and hasn’t quite been his elite self when he’s played.

You can make a case I should have taken Booker here over Markkanen too, but he ends up as my last cut.

Yahoo! Sports’ Dave Devine – Yes

If we’re operating under a framework in which we can reward players who were working at an MVP-conversation level prior to going on the shelf, then I think it’s only fair to give the nod to Booker, who forcefully entered that conversation with a 51-point annihilation of the Bulls, followed shortly thereafter by a 58-point heater in a comeback win over the Pelicans. staff

Brian Martin – No

Mark Medina – No

Should Booker be penalized for missing more games? Or should he receive recognition that the Suns have sorely missed him? I chose (Damian) Lillard because of his current availability and his relatively superior numbers. But I still feel conflicted over the choice.

Shaun Powell – No

John Schuhmann – Yes

Devin Booker just barely makes the cut, but he’s an obvious All-Star when healthy and the Suns are 18-11 when he’s played.

Michael C. Wright – No

… Fox is the obvious choice here with Devin Booker likely unavailable due to a groin injury that has kept him out since December.

Booker played lights-out before his latest setback, as Phoenix is 18-11 with him in the lineup this season. Without Booker, the Suns are 8-14 (Editor’s note: at the time of writing), so leaving Booker off this ballot is more a matter of expected availability in Salt Lake City.

Sporting News’ Stephen Noh – No

Next Man Up: Devin Booker, Suns: Booker’s case is hurt by the fact that he’s only played in 29 games this season. His value is evident from the way the Suns have played without him — they are 18-11 when he plays, and 9-15 in games he’s missed.

The Ringer’s Michael Pina – No

Inside the NBA on TNT

Charles Barkley – No

Kenny Smith – No

Shaquille O’Neal – No

Adam Lefkoe – No

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