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Devin Booker’s All-Star emergence has accelerated Ryan McDonough’s timeline to action

Pressure is on the Suns’ front office now to find the 21-year-old some long-term help quicker than we all expected.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

We all expected a jump in Devin Booker’s game entering his third season, but did any of us expect this?

I sensed the Suns’ babyfaced assassin would take the leap in scoring, but the all-around improvements alongside an evergrowing efficiency increase even with a heavier workload?

No, I didn’t sense that occurring in year three, but, look, here we are already.

After his magnificent encore performance in The Garden in a 116-111 loss, where he finished with a line of 38 points, he dropped 46 two nights later in Philadelphia.

Remember, that was against the likes of Marcus Smart and Robert Covington, two of the most well-regarded on-ball defenders, but it didn’t matter because Booker torched both whenever he was matched up on them.

This is all while Booker is seeing double teams come him was once crossing halfcourt. He was having his struggles when a team like San Antonio first deployed it on him post-Eric Bledsoe trade, but now he’s adjusting on the fly.

Booker has crossed the 30-point threshold now 10 times already this season, six in his last 11. He did it 14 all of last season.

That jump that general manager Ryan McDonough alluded to about his face of the franchise becoming an “elite offensive weapon” at Media Day has come to fruition.

With Booker now getting totally comfortable with running the show alongside a James Harden-esque 30-percent usage rating, his last 10 games have put him already next to NBA’s elite, and really MVP contenders.

Booker is now averaging 25.7 points per game on the season, all while allotting four rebounds and assists too. The only other names to do so are LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

All four are currently in the MVP race, by the way. Not saying that Booker should even be in any sort of discussion, but he totally should be in the Most Improved Discussion alongside Kristaps Porzingis.

Another intriguing development I’ve touched on plenty so far with Booker is his rising efficiency.

Right now when comparing other two-guards, Booker is only behind Harden and Klay Thompson out in the West for true shooting percentage, so this is another feather in the cap for his candidacy this early.

Guards around the league who are doing 24-4-4 (technically 3.9 assists but I’ll round here) stat lines consistently? That’s only Booker, LeBron, Harden, and Stephen Curry. There’s another one, too.

However, as we have seen so far outside of T.J. Warren, the 21-year-old guard out of Kentucky has received absolutely no help.

Combined between their two dynamic scoring forwards, which ranks fifth in the league over the past month as far as duos go, they have twenty-seven 20-plus point games. The rest of the roster only has eight total (Greg Monroe 2x, Mike James 2x, Josh Jackson, Alex Len, and Troy Daniels).

Through the first quarter of his third season, it should become apparent to McDonough and Co. in Phoenix’s front office that Booker’s emergence shall jump-start their quest to find some more long-term help.

Whether it’s the upcoming draft or via trade between February and July (probably both, really), McDonough needs to realize the playoff push needs to be kickstarted by a year.

I won’t go into deep detail — with how crazy the NBA landscape is it can change in an instance — on why exactly these combos of moves should be made, but I believe this is the best course of action for Phoenix to restructure their roster around Booker’s strengths moving forward.

Simply put, this team needs a steep injection of elite talent.

They need to swing for the fences in the 2018 draft and acquire one of Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, Deandre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba. Then, they need to trade off some of their current pieces dependent upon that selection to upgrade the overall team.

Names that I believe should be marked on the big board as trade targets are Anthony Davis, C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard, and Klay Thompson. (Yes, I actually believe either one of Dame or C.J. fits alongside Booker if you are able to draft a prospect like Bamba to pair with Bender + Jackson.)

It’s hard to play clairvoyant and see which big names are on the move, but these names make the most sense over the next few seasons.

The original plan of action for 2020 becoming the year to make their rise up should be scratched if they want to capitalize on Booker’s possible leap into All-Star territory.

Outside of Booker and Warren at the moment, Phoenix is starved for more scoring and that needs to be attacked from a lot of angles over the next year.

After he received his extension through the 2019-2020 season, McDonough told the local media that this timeline was going to require a heavy amount of patience.

The Suns have one star in tow, but now Phoenix needs to hope Jackson develops into one while going all-in for Summer 2018.

From the quote below, could McDonough have alluded to one of his many alternative plans after trading Bledsoe much like 2016 when he acquired Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss in the top 10? It certainly is possible alongside an evergrowing stash of assets that can only be matched by his former employer, the Boston Celtics (Bagley/Sexton or Doncic/Bamba or Jackson Jr.? Yes, please).

Whatever tricks McDonough has up his sleeve better pay off because with Booker taking this next step so early in his development, the clock has already started ticking.

"Yeah, I think if you look at the broader picture league-wide, probably, hopefully at the top or near the top of the list as far as teams that can put together compelling packages for a star,” McDonough said. “I know I've talked about that a lot over the years. We've had some of those opportunities over the past year in particular that we decided to pass on, so being patient and being methodical I understand is a little controversial, but, yeah, I feel like the more we add to {asset collection} the more it kind of furthers our position as a team that could put together a pretty compelling offer for a superstar or we can continue to draft and develop players which we have been doing.

There's a lot of alternatives, I don't want to go through all of them, but we can combine the picks and move up kind of like we did to get Marquese Chriss a few years ago so it gives us more optionality. I think we have a lot of flexibility with our draft pick situation, our cap situation, with our roster balance. We have a lot of options over the next couple of years and I think and hope in time that will pay off.”

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