We've written ad nauseum about the disaster that was the last trade deadline, but look at it this way: If the Suns had kept Isaiah Thomas last year, they never would have gotten to experience Devin Booker.
Isaiah Thomas, 26, was named an All-Star this year, and is putting up 22.2 points and 6.4 assists per game for the 4th-seeded Celtics.
Devin Booker, 19, will likely be named to the All-Rookie team, and is putting up 22 points and 5 assists per game in March for the bottom-dwelling Suns. He's averaged 18 points per game since being inserted in the starting lineup three months ago.
Think about it. Let's assume that Ryan McDonough, Suns GM, hung up the phone on his mentor Danny Ainge as the clock struck 1pm Arizona Time last year. Let's assume that he stopped trading after swapping Goran Dragic for Brandon Knight, or that he didn't trade anyone at all.
If Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas and Dragic/Knight were on the Suns roster in late June, and with Bogdan Bogdanovic on the way in 2017 or 2018, the Suns would have passed on Devin Booker at #13 overall.
To recap, the Suns wanted power forward for the future. They were frustrated with the Morris brothers after the year of self-destruction and had no power forward prospects on the roster. At center, they had Alex Len. At SF, it was T.J. Warren. You already know the back court log jam. Power forward was the position to fill.
They had targeted Frank Kaminsky (who went 9th), Myles Turner (11th) or Trey Lyles (12th). They've have taken Willie Cauley-Stein (6th) if he'd dropped. The Suns reportedly had eyes on trading up to the 9th pick, but got rebuffed along with everyone else.
So they stayed at 13, and watched their targets all get taken before the got on the clock.
What was left?
A perfect-sized pure shooter in Devin Booker, ranked by most scouts higher in the draft than 13th overall, but generally seen as a long-term project who's primary NBA skill would be shooting. The Suns already had Bledsoe, Knight/Dragic and Thomas, in this scenario, so they would definitely have passed on Booker.
Who else? The next players to go were Cameron Payne, Kelly Oubre, Terry Rozier, Rashad Vaughan, Sam Dekker, Jerian Grant, Delon Wright and Justin Anderson. None were over 6'8".
Finally, Suns fan favorite Bobby Portis went 22nd to Chicago. Another fan favorite Montrezl Harrell dropped into the second round. At the time, I'd have been happy with Portis or Harrell.
But is either big man better than Devin Booker?
And would a core of Bledsoe, Knight/Dragic, Thomas, Warren, Len and Portis have been any better than 8-10 seed in the West in the coming years? Would the Morrii still be part of that core?
Is there an All-Star in that group? Would Isaiah Thomas have wrestled the starting point guard spot from Bledsoe, or the shooting guard spot from Dragic/Knight?
Or would you rather a core of Bledsoe, Booker, Knight, Warren, Len and a Top-5 and late lotto pick?
I can see All-Star potential in Devin Booker, and I can see him fitting perfectly next to Eric Bledsoe. Booker's only positive plus/minus this year, if you can believe it, is playing next to Ronnie Price. Price profiles like a really, really poor man's Bledsoe in that his calling card is defense. Bledsoe adds the offense as well. It's possible that Booker's presence in the coming years will allow Bledsoe to ascend to All-Star status as well. They appear to be each other's yin-yang.
So let's go back to the beginning: would you rather have Isaiah Thomas and Bobby Portis or Devin Booker and the 28th pick in this year's draft (Cleveland's)? That's potentially the net difference in the Thomas trade.
You might prefer Booker's future over Thomas' present. But don't forget that Thomas has already developed into an All-Star and is leading the Celtics into the playoffs for the second year in a row - and home court advantage this time - while the Suns can only hope that Devin Booker can some day approximate that success.
Vote. And discuss.