PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Devin Booker, Bradley Beal dip in ESPN’s 2023-24 NBARank

Oct 11, 2023, 9:48 AM

Bradley Beal and Devin Booker...

Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots in front of Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half at Capital One Arena on January 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ three stars probably know their statistics and individual accolades will take a hit in 2023-24. That’s probably OK by them if the Suns capture an NBA title.

Sacrifice is inevitable.

And of things that likely aren’t so important to Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, where they each land on ESPN’s annual preseason NBARank exercise is a good place to start. Both Booker and Beal took relative tumbles compared to last year’s NBARank, not exactly because of their play.

Booker made the top 10 last year at 10th on the nose but slipped to 11th for 2023-24 as ESPN revealed Nos. 11-50 on Wednesday. It was simply about usage, because there were no obvious setbacks to his game coming out of last year, writes Dave McMenamin.

Can Booker make a run at MVP? He has already long been considered one of the most fundamentally sound players at his position, and after finishing fourth in voting for the award in 2021-22, his scoring, shooting percentage and assist averages all went up last year. The key will be staying on the floor: Booker missed 29 games because of injury last season.

Beal took a heftier dip in the rankings, falling from 19th to 37th.

Why? It’s once again about usage, according to McMenamin.

Beal went from being the No. 1 option with the Wizards to No. 3 for the Suns. His willingness and ability to sacrifice for the greater good will dictate whether this ranking was fair.

A few former Suns made jumps up the rankings with their new surroundings that put them in starring roles. Center Deandre Ayton was 51st a season ago but 49th this year, while Mikal Bridges made a giant jump from 49th to 33rd. Notably, Bridges was a spot ahead of Dallas Mavericks star guard Kyrie Irving.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton points out the significance of Bridges’ breakout.

Already valuable for his defense and spot-up shooting, Bridges added shot creation — which accelerated after he was traded to Brooklyn. Already averaging a career-high 17.2 PPG in Phoenix, Bridges pushed that to 26.1 with the Nets, which would have ranked 16th in the NBA.

Durant finds himself in the top-10 of ESPN’s rankings. The exact order of players left on the board was not yet released as of Wednesday morning.

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