What a difference a little bit of national attention makes!
After a great undefeated run in the Bubble, the Suns and Devin Booker are now getting more positive national buzz than any time since 2014. Many pundits are picking the Suns to finish in or close to the playoffs next season, and suddenly Devin Booker is seen as someone to build around.
Hoopshype.com recently polled 15 NBA talent evaluators, including four general managers, six executives and five scouts, to learn which players under 25 they’d build around and why.
In recent years, the Booker was inching up these kinds of charts but never has he climbed higher than right now.
According to these basketball people, Booker (23 years old) rated as the 3rd best possible player to build a team around, behind only Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic and Celtics conference-finals leader Jayson Tatum.
Here’s what Hoopshype had to say.
Booker was the hottest player in the league during the seeding games in the bubble leading the Suns to an 8-0 record while averaging 30.5 points on 50.3 percent shooting, 6.0 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game.
The first-time All-Star showed his durability by playing the second-most minutes in the league (2,512) while getting to the line for the third-most free throws (468).
The 6-foot-5 guard can become one of the league’s top players if he works on the other end of the court, according to the executives and scouts polled.
“He’s more of a pure scorer and shooter, but he doesn’t defend much,” as one executive noted.
Booker got more votes than other young players who showed well in the season’s final games as well as early playoffs, like Ja Morant, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Zion Williamson and Jamal Murray. Rounding out the 13 players mentioned by these executives and scouts in their lists of top young players to build a whole franchise around are Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, De’Aaron Fox and Karl-Anthony Towns.
On the ranking: The talent evaluators ranked their five favorite players under 25 to build around. In the HoopsHype scoring system, the top player received five points, the second player received four points, and so on. Booker got more than 25% of all possible points in this voting system. Note that more than a dozen talent evaluators came up with 13 players in their various top-five lists.
It’s nice to see Booker being viewed as a good player on a good team for once, after years of his stats being discounted for an awful franchise around him. The voters were likely heavily influenced by recency bias, only mentioning players from the 22 teams who joined the Bubble, with the exception of one vote for KAT.
Now Booker enters next season with continuity on the sideline and among his starting lineup (all five of his best teammates are under contract for 2020-21, if not beyond), with the proof of playing better as they got to know Monty Williams’ system better. Their youngest lineup not only went 8-0 in the Bubble but outscored their opponents by more than 12 points per game on average. The next highest differential team was Boston, at about 8 points per game.
When does next season start anyway???!