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Booker injury will expose five year Suns drafting record for what it is

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In the wake of Devin Booker’s groin injury, the Suns will have to rely on their other lottery picks to carry the load.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I explored Ryan McDonough’s drafting record since becoming the Phoenix Suns general manager five drafts ago.

The basic conclusion was that the Suns got lucky with Devin Booker and, at best, barely passed muster in other years if not outright failed.

Now that Booker is most likely facing considerable down time (MRI results pending) with an injured groin, we get to watch the rest of McDonough’s draftees try to look like an NBA basketball team without him.

Here’s how McDonough’s draftees have fared this year for the 9-17 Suns:

  • Booker (13th in 2015): 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 19.3 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), 1.7 win shares, .098 win shares per 48 minutes (WS/48), .7 Box Score Plus Minus (BPM), .6 Value Above Replacement Player (VORP)
  • Perfectly average NBA player: 15.0 PER, .100 WS/48, 0.0 BPM, 0.0 VORP
  • Alex Len (5th in 2013): 18.0 PER, .136 WS/48, -1.8 BPM, 0.0 VORP
  • T.J. Warren (14th in 2014): 18.4 PER, .088 WS/48, -2.0 BPM, 0.0 VORP
  • Marquese Chriss (8th in 2016): 10.0 PER, .034 WS/48, -1.5 BPM, 0.1 VORP
  • Josh Jackson (4th in 2017): 7.9 PER, -0.065 WS/48, -6.1 BPM, -0.6 VORP
  • Dragan Bender (4th in 2016): 7.2 PER, .006 WS/48, -2.8 BPM, -0.1 VORP
  • Tyler Ulis (34th in 2016): 9.8 PER, -.016 WS/48, -5.7 BPM, -0.5 VORP

Ugh.

Without Devin Booker, the Suns will have to rely on their other recent draft picks to carry them on a nightly basis.

None of those players can take over Booker’s production. Josh Jackson simply does not appear to be ready for major minutes. Neither is Tyler Ulis (while someone like Mike James plays more shooting guard).

Who takes Booker’s minutes?

Josh Jackson

The guess here is that Jackson had better earn more minutes in the absence of Booker. Jackson was touted as possibly the best talent in a very good draft this past spring, but just hasn’t shown the self-control to be a predictable, positive influence on a game yet.

But who else takes the minutes?

Troy Daniels

Certainly, we will see more of Troy Daniels in the coming weeks. Daniels shoots with abandon, though he does almost nothing else.

The fact that Daniels’ True Shooting % is 60.8% yet he’s still got just a 9.8 PER means he literally does nothing but shoot threes. Will that help? Yes, of course. The Suns need the points. Will it win games? No.

Derrick Jones Jr.

This might finally be DJJ’s chance to shine again in the NBA. Airplane Mode has been quite productive for the G-league NAZ Suns.

He’s averaging 14.8 points (26% three point shooting), 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals and assists per game, and he’s always prided himself on playing perimeter defense.

But for DJJ to get minutes in Phoenix means, most likely, that Mike James would have to be cut.

Mike James

The deadline on Mike James is today - the 45th and final day he is allowed to be on an NBA roster this entire season under a two-way contract. He either has to get sent down to the G-League for the rest of the season or get signed to a full NBA contract.

But the problem there is the Suns already have 15 guys under contract (14 guaranteed for the season), with only Derrick Jones Jr. clinging to a non-guaranteed deal.

James is 4th on the team in total minutes this season, just behind #3 Tyler Ulis somehow. I mean, is there any more you need to know about the 2017-18 Suns than the fact that James and Ulis are 3rd and 4th in total minutes this season?

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.

James does have a 14.4 PER, which is just below league average (15.0), and he is third on the team with 4.0 assists per game - just behind Ulis’ 4.2 and Booker’s 4.1.

So maybe the Suns really do need to keep him around.

Poo Poo Platter

That’s what we have here, as replacement options for Devin Booker’s incredibleness.

Sorry Suns fans.