NBA GMs say Suns’ Devin Booker is poised for a breakout season

Oct 18, 2016, 9:10 AM

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) drives the basket as Utah Jazz's Joe Ingles, right, defends during t...

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) drives the basket as Utah Jazz's Joe Ingles, right, defends during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

(AP Photo/Kim Raff)

The 2016-17 NBA season is a little more than a week away.

The Phoenix Suns open their season next Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Coached by Earl Watson, the Suns enter the campaign with a renewed sense of forward momentum, much of it fueled by the youth on the roster.

Phoenix features three players — Dragan Bender, Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss — who will be teenagers on opening night. While Bender and Chriss figure to take time finding their footing in the pro game after being top-ten draft picks last June, there is a great deal of responsibility on Booker’s shoulders.

Booker was an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection last year when he averaged 13.8 points per game after injuries made him the focal point of the offense.

NBA executives are expecting more from Booker this season. In the annual GM Survey published on, respondents were asked to pick the player they expect a breakout season from in 2016-17. Booker got more votes that anyone, garnering 31 percent. That was more than Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, who was named by execs as the player they’d pick if they were starting a new franchise today.


Booker, the 13th overall pick in 2015 out of Kentucky, played sparingly early in the season, but moved into the starting lineup in late December. In 51 starts, Booker averaged 17.4 points per game in just over 34 minutes.

The praise Booker is receiving heading into his second year isn’t limited to just GMs. Superstar LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was asked on a podcast in August about a promising “young gun” to keep an eye on in the future.

“That no one knows about?” James asked. “I’ma be honest. If it’s someone that is under the radar right now that … I believe that’s gonna be a really, really All-Star (level) player in the league, it’s Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns.”

The audio clip from the podcast is featured in the Suns’ pregame hype video this season.

Booker wasn’t the only member of the Suns to receive notice in the survey. Chriss got votes for Rookie of the Year and was mentioned as the player who was the biggest steal in the position he was drafted. The Suns moved up in a trade with the Kings to select Chriss, a forward out of Washington, with the eighth overall pick.

Forward Jared Dudley, whom the Suns brought back in free agency this summer, finished tied for second in the “Current Player Who Will Make the Best Head Coach Someday” category. Dudley got the same number of votes as former Suns guard Ronnie Price, who now plays for Oklahoma City. Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul led the voting in that category.

Phoenix Suns

Marquette guard Tyler Kolek...

Arizona Sports

2024 NBA mock draft tracker: Who might the Phoenix Suns select with the 22nd pick?

The Phoenix Suns own the No. 22 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft and with a salary-capped roster have few avenues to improve their team.

4 hours ago

Tyler Kolek #11 of the Marquette Golden Eagles reacts during the second half against the Villanova ...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Is point guard the way to go for Suns in 2024 NBA Draft?

The majority of the Phoenix Suns fanbase wants to see the team target a point guard in the NBA Draft. Is that the right call?

5 hours ago

Kyle Zunic #22 of the Perth Wildcats shoots a layup against Tyler Smith #11 of G League Ignite in t...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Do Suns go project route in 2024 NBA Draft with Tyler Smith?

G League Ignite forward Tyler Smith has a combination of size and shooting rarely seen on the first-round bubble of the NBA Draft.

1 day ago

Tyler Kolek, Marquette point guard...

Ryan Pasiecznik

Point guard Tyler Kolek picked by Suns in For The Win’s NBA mock draft

The Phoenix Suns' point guard problem could be solved in the 2024 NBA Draft if Marquette guard Tyler Kolek is on the board at No. 22.

1 day ago

Bobi Klintman  of the Taipans in action during the round 13 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Me...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Bobi Klintman could be Suns’ big wing in 2024 NBA Draft

If the Phoenix Suns want a bigger wing in the 2024 NBA Draft, Bobi Klintman is a headliner in the back of the first round.

2 days ago

Charles Barkley looks on prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Ce...

Kellan Olson

Charles Barkley says next season will be his last on television

Long-time NBA analyst for TNT Charles Barkley revealed on NBA TV Friday night that next season will be his last on television.

3 days ago

NBA GMs say Suns’ Devin Booker is poised for a breakout season