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Phoenix Suns Devin Booker can look at history to see that All-Rookie doesn't mean All-Time Great

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Does being named to the All-Rookie team in the NBA mean you are a great player? Or that you got lots of minutes on a bad team? Yes and yes. Let's look at the past several years of rookies.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

When the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker - the youngest player in the NBA for the past 11 months - was named a First-Team All-Rookie, garnering the 3rd-most votes, he was the first Suns player named to that honor in 13 years.

Former Phoenix Suns who made first-team All-Rookie: Amare Stoudemire (2003), Michael Finley (1996), Armen Gilliam (1988), Walter Davis (1978), Kevin Loder (1977), Alvan Adams (1976), Mike Bantom (1974), Gary Gregor (1969).

Those who made the Second-team All-Rookie: Joe Johnson (2002), Shawn Marion (2000), Wesley Person (1995), Richard Dumas (1993).

You don't see Steve Nash mentioned anywhere. He was the third point guard on the Suns in his rookie year, behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson, who were pretty good players. And you don't see Jeff Hornacek. He was a late second-round pick, but eventually worked himself into an All-Star berth during the golden age of shooting guards.

But other than Nash and Hornacek, pretty much every great Suns draft pick was an All-Rookie either first or second team.

Suns recent history has not been as kind as that list might lead you to believe.

Suns recent history

Since Amare Stoudemire was named first-team All-Rookie in 2003, the Suns have played 31 rookies acquired either via the draft, free agency or trade. None were named to an All-Rookie team. None of them averaged more than 7.9 points per game as a rookie (Leandro Barbosa), or took more than 6.9 shots per game (Markieff Morris). None played in more than 70 games (Barbosa).

Now there's Devin Booker. Booker's 13.8 points per game, 11.4 field goal attempts, and 27.7 minutes per game in 76 games are all rookie highs over that time. His 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game are Top-3.

Devin Booker was only the second-youngest to don a Suns uniform. Remember Maciej Lampe? He was only 18 in 2003-04, drafted before the new age minimum took effect.

So, the competition among prior Phoenix Suns rookies since 2003 isn't worth investing more keystrokes. Just be glad you've got Devin Booker on your team.

But what does being named All-Rookie even mean, in the scheme of things?

Is being All-Rookie a ticket to stardom?

Eh, no. Sometimes, putting up the best rookie stats just means you were on the crappiest teams. And this year was no exception. The first-team All-Rookies played for teams with that ranged from 10-33 wins on the season. None even sniffed the playoffs.

Let's take a look at past All-Rookie teams to see where what stardom awaited those players.



Again, the All-Rookie guys got lots of minutes on really bad teams, except for Nikola Mirotic with the Bulls. The Bulls won 50 games last year with Mirotic an exciting rookie from overseas who'd waited three years after being drafted so he could sign a market-rate contract. Stardom was expected of Nikola, especially after an offense-minded coach replaced Tom Thibodeau's grinding style. But alas, Mirotic shot very poorly this year and arguably regressed as a player despite increasing his scoring average.

The other All-Rookies leveled out except for Andrew Wiggins, who projects to be the only one from that All-Rookie team that could someday wear an All-Star uniform.

A year later, players like Rodney Hood, Clint Capela and Aaron Gordon all earned more win shares than Andrew Wiggins, while Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine really started making names for themselves.

The Suns' T.J. Warren showed he has great scoring instincts and was the MVP of Las Vegas Summer League in 2015, but also has major holes in his game (defense, rebounding) that might be career-limiting.



Again, lots of guys who got big minutes on bad teams. No one is going to promote Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke or MCW for an All-Star game in the future. None of them look like 10-year starters, let alone All-Stars. Almost all of them lost their rotation spot, or at least saw a reduction of their shine in the two years since being named All-Rookie. Only Mason Plumlee, by far the lowest scorer in that group, has gotten significantly better since his rookie season once the Blazers discovered his passing abilities and gave him minutes to burn.

From the historically bad 2013 draft, some true gems have emerged. Giannis Antetokounmpo had about 52 straight triple-doubles this spring after being moved to the point guard position, and Rudy Gobert is a defensive player of the year candidate for the rest of his career. And let's not forget C.J. McCollum setting the league on fire with 20 points per game this past season for the resurgent Blazers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Shroder have been good as well.

Suns picks Alex Len and Archie Goodwin are nowhere to be seen. Len was injured, Goodwin was not ready, and the Suns won 48 games fighting for the playoffs the whole way.



Of this rookie class, at least we've got some real winners and long-term NBA starters. This might be THE only recent All-Rookie class that Suns fans hope the 2016 All-Rookie class someday resembles.

Three of these guys have already been extended by their drafting team to incredibly big contracts, and Harrison Barnes figures to join them this summer. Barnes will likely get at least $20 million per year from another team besides the Warriors, while Dion Waiters will get some good money as well. But Waiters is the only non-starter in the group.

But as good as these guys have been, a couple of second round picks from 2012 have been just as impressive if not moreso. Draymond Green might be the best of all. He's an annual contender for All-Defense, Defensive Player of the Year and most triple-doubles, while spending most of his time in a forward or center role. Kris Middleton is another later pick that has since blossomed.

You don't see Suns pick Kendall Marshall anywhere on this list.



So this class was pretty good too. Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard are All-Stars. Ricky Rubio is perennially a really good player on a really bad team, polarizing observers into wondering how good/bad he'd be on a very good team. Kenneth Faried is great in a particular playing style. He looked like a manimal when playing for George Karl or Mike Malone, but like a journeyman under Brian Shaw.

Players who have emerged since then are Isaiah Thomas (leading all scorers from that draft in 2015-16), Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler. All three have been All-Stars at least once. Reggie Jackson and Nikola Vucevic have been great too. Chandler Parsons and Enes Kanter have both received maximum salary contracts as soon as they were eligible.

You'll see the Suns Brandon Knight on there. Cue the hate comments, followed by the lukewarm defense comments, followed quickly by dialed-up-even-higher hate comments. But it remains that, five years into his career, Knight is that class' 7th leading scorer and 5th in assists. He also leads that whole class in turnovers per game by a wide margin and is only 25th in Win Shares.

Phoenix Suns draftee Markieff Morris could not be found on that All-Rookie team, but he was at least in the running for Sixth Man of the Year in his third season in the league (finishing 4th) and turned into a long-term NBA starter at power forward. However, he personally set fire to the Suns franchise in his fourth and fifth years so let's not harp on how great he is. He does enough of that all on his own.