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Center of the Sun: What should Suns fans expect from Devin Booker this season?

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The Fantable discusses that and how the Suns should handle the backup slot at shooting guard.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Every fan has expectations of Devin Booker, some high and some very high. He's already drawn praise from the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Klay Thompson and the King himself, LeBron James. He's already written himself into the NBA's history books and almost everyone expects him to become an All-Star at some point in his career. But for now, in the first question I put to the Fantable, I've asked them to consider only what Booker might have in store for us this coming season.

Fantable Question #1

What do you believe are reasonable expectations for Devin Booker this year?

GuarGuar: I think everyone here knows how passionate I am about Devin Booker and what he will be as a player. I've been reading around lately and the expectations for Booker seem really really extreme if you ask me and especially on offense. Some think he will be in the race for the scoring title this year. While I would be elated if this were the case, I just don't think he has developed enough yet to do so and I'm one of the biggest Booker fanatics out there. With Booker he needs to improve on efficiency so I think reasonable expectations for him this season are 23-24 ppg with a FG% around 46% and a 3pt% around 39%. I also expect his playmaking to improve to the point of 4-5 assists a game this season while limiting turnovers.

Now regarding Defense...the "fun" part. I'm gonna call it as it is, Book was a terrible defender last season. And I'm going to say I expect him to really improve this season. Am I saying he is going to be this above average or elite defender...no. But Booker's poor defense was from awareness and effort last season, not because he was physically limited. Devin said during the offseason his biggest focus was on defense. He knows how much people have trashed him for it. Booker has been proving people wrong every year since he came into the league, and I don't expect him to stop now. I expect a defender who was in the bottom 5 percentile last year to get to around 40th percentile this season. All he needs to be is near average on defense because his offensive game is such a net positive.

Final Stat line prediction: 24 ppg, 4.5 reb, 4.5 ast, 46% FGM, 39% 3PM, 3 TO and a 40th percentile defender.

Sun-Arc: I like everything that Yusuf is saying about Booker. And I agree with his assessment. He has star potential and is already one of the most offensively skilled SG’s in the league at age 20. If he is a future star he’ll up his production and start to take other aspects of his game to another level this coming season. Notice the “if” in that sentence.

At this point I see Booker as becoming one of the foremost offensive performers of the league over the next three seasons - possibly top 5. But, unfortunately, I don’t see him ever having PG13, LBJ, Kawhi, or Kobe level of defensive ability. He’ll maybe get to average. Though I think his playmaking and rebounding will improve, and all this will be enough that he’ll be considered a #1 on any team (like James Harden is now).

For this season, I expect him to average 25 pts, 4.2 rbs, 4.4 ast, 1 stl, .4 blk, with 2.6 turnovers per game. I expect his shooting to be:

2pt-46% (on 20 attempts; 3pt-38.5% (on 8.5 attempts); FT-86% (on 9 attempts). I fully expect his VORP to be in positive territory and his PER above 18. His ORtg will increase to 108 and his DRtg will decrease to 111.

None of this is earth-shattering, but our team isn’t very good yet. I don’t expect him to be able to “carry” the team this season; or probably any season. Anthony Davis hasn’t. Why should we expect Devin to do that? As the team improves his numbers will too and vice versa. It will take a couple of seasons to get there unless, as some say, the team “flips the switch” sooner than expected.

SDKyle: A reasonable expectation for Booker this season is to roughly maintain his raw numbers from last season, perhaps with slight increases, but with a moderate improvement in efficiency as he continues to mature and add to his offensive skills. Booker sat at 53% true shooting this past season, and I'd like to see him be at more like 55% this year.

As for his defense, a reasonable expectation would be a slight improvement. Booker has a natural feel for the game as a scorer, but it doesn't seem like that gift extends to the defensive end. The effort is there in spurts, and he's physically capable of making some plays, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect him to make large strides on defense this season, or possibly ever, really. If he could evolve from awful to "pretty bad," that would be reasonable and okay.

SouthernSun: Reasonable expectations for Booker this year would be to slightly increase his scoring numbers while also having a modest improvement in his efficiency. Something along the lines of 24ppg on 45% from the field and 38% from 3. I would be very pleased if he is able to put that kind of offensive season together. It would be icing on the cake if he became at least only a little below average on defense (as opposed to atrocious like he was last season), but I don't necessarily expect that just yet. If he is able to make those improvements this season, it will give me a lot of confidence in his ability to add a little something each offseason as he matures.

Fantable Question #2

No matter what anyone's expectations are for Booker this season, no one can expect him to play 48 minutes per night. He has to rest at least a little during games and that could be a problem for the Suns early in the season. With Davon Reed sidelined until January and Brandon Knight out for the year, the Suns will be auditioning quite a few players before and during training camp to fill in at shooting guard while Booker rests. The list of hopefuls (so far) includes Derrick Jones Jr, Elijah Millsap, Peter Jok, R.J. Hunter, Isaiah Canaan, Andre Dawkins, and Xavier Silas.

With that in mind, I posed the following question to the Fantable.

With Davon Reed out until at least January, what do you think Earl Watson should do to fill the backup shooting guard hole in the rotation?

GuarGuar: I think DJJ should take the majority of the backup 2 minutes. He showed he is semi capable on defense last season. I expect his set jumper/offense to improve. He can cover point guards instead of Tyler Ulis if necessary. It really comes down to how much of a liability will he be on offense. If he isn't much of one, I'm all for watching Airplane Mode. If he is a liability, sign me up for the Jok Strap.

Sun-Arc: To fill the backup SG role I think we should play our best guards to cover the minutes. Play Bled, Booker, and Ulis around 90 minutes total, with Josh Jackson filling in additional minutes. Bled and Booker will likely play 32-36 mpg. I can see Ulis playing 20-26 mpg as well. They will overlap quite a bit, with each of the three playing with one of the other guards for extended minutes. Josh can take the open minutes at SG, allowing him to play alongside TJ as well and one of the PG’s as well.

DJJ, Jok, or another SG may get garbage time or certain assignments (defensive, shooting, etc) as necessary. But I hope the minutes go to the best players that are definitively part of the team moving forward.

SDKyle: I think the Suns should bring someone on to play a piece of that role, but also do some experimenting with Jackson as the 2 and giving some spot time there to DJJ and possibly Millsap if he shows he can give the team a handful of non-embarrassing minutes. I think Booker is likely to be getting about 34-35 minutes a game once again, right or wrong, and so we won't need to fill THAT much time in as far as the bench #2 spot goes.

SouthernSun: Well, it would seem this question has been answered for us. With Reed out, the team has signed the undrafted 3 point marksman Jok, and extended a training camp invite to former Celtics 28th overall pick RJ Hunter. Those two will be battling with Elijah Millsap and DJJ for the backup SG spot. That's perhaps the most underwhelming and ho hum training camp minutes battle in recent memory. My guess is that RJ Hunter narrowly beats out the rest for the privilege of playing 11 or 12 minutes a game behind Booker. DJJ will still get occasional burn, but not the extended minutes he saw last season, unless he miraculously developed some semblance of a 3 point shot over the summer.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable... GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun!


Backup Shooting Guard Prospect Highlights

Derrick Jones Jr. Full Highlights vs Kings 2017.07.14 Summer League - 14 Pts, 6 Rebs, 2 Blks.

Highlights: Elijah Millsap (32 points) vs. the Energy, 3/25/2017

Peter Jok Iowa Career Offense Highlights Montage 2014-2017 - Best Shooter In Draft!

Highlights: RJ Hunter (25 points) vs. the NAZ Suns, 2/13/2017

Isaiah Canaan 15 Points/6 Assists Full Highlights (10/31/2016)

Highlights: Andre Dawkins (37 points) vs. the Energy, 3/13/2017

Highlights: Xavier Silas (26 points) vs. the Austin Spurs, 2/24/2017


Quote of the Week


News & Notes

NBASuns news: Phoenix brings in four guards for workout. Clutch Points

Season preview: Phoenix Suns. Hoops Hype

Assault trial of Marcus and Markieff Morris set to begin Monday. ESPN

SI.com Ranks Booker and Bledsoe Top 100 Players in NBA. Sun.com

Suns’ offseason a snoozer. NBC Sports

Coach Earl Watson Honored with Latino Vanguard Award. Suns.com


Suns History in Video

Steve Nash: Greatest Plays and Performances


Suns Trivia

Steve Nash is the all-time leader in assists for the Suns with a total of 6,997. He also holds the records for Single Playoffs Per Game Average with 13.27 apg (2007) and for Single Playoffs Total Assists with 204 (2006). Nash is also 7th in all-time total points with 10,712 and 2nd in all-time total points scored in the playoffs with 1,365.

Steve was a six time All-Star for the Suns in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. He was the NBA Assists Leader five times (2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2009-10 and 2010-11), named to the All-NBA First Team three times (2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07), the All-NBA Second Team twice (2007-08 and 2009-10) and NBA Season MVP twice in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

He became the 14th member of the Phoenix Suns' Ring of Honor on October 31, 2015.

Statistics courtesy of Land of Basketball.com.


Previewing the Weeks Ahead

September 25 - Media Day

September 26 - Training camp opens.

September 29 - Suns to hold free open scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

October 1 - Last day for RFAs to sign qualifying offers.

October 3 - First preseason game @ Portland Trail Blazers

October 14 - Last day for players on fully non-guaranteed contracts to be waived and not count at all against a team’s 2017/18 cap.

October 15 - Roster limits decrease from 20 players to 15. Last day for teams to sign a player to a rookie scale extension. Last day for teams to sign a player to a veteran extension in certain scenarios. Last day for teams to complete sign-and-trade deals. Last day for teams to convert an Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way contract.

October 17 - Day One of the 2017-18 NBA Season!

October 18 - Home Opener! Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers


Last Week's Poll Results

The question was, "How many wins do you think the Suns will have at the midpoint of the season?" The results were:

21.5% - 21 or more.

46.5% - 16 - 20.

32.0% - 15 or less.

There were a total of 116 votes cast.


This week's poll is...

Poll

Which of the three new Nike uniform designs do you like the most?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    The Association
    (18 votes)
  • 34%
    The Icon
    (72 votes)
  • 56%
    The Statement
    (117 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now