You want to see yourself as the best version of what you can become in life, and for a lot of us to get through the day, our brain will tell ourselves that we are 5% more attractive when looking into the mirror than we really are.
From the lies of our own bathroom mirror, what we see on the court in the NBA game is real. You can take away the flopping and the boob-jobs courtside, and the rest is real. How we individually see the game can vary, but we can agree that some of the best players in the NBA are the best and the worst are the worst.
Simply creating my imaginary scale of value in the NBA, with 10 being LeBron James and 1 a Marquese Chriss, leveling up to a 10 in the NBA is a group very few are allowed in.
Joining James at a 10, you can throw in Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Nikola Jokic. Maxed out to their fullest on the court and what they bring to their team. These players have exerted themselves to win at all costs. Say what you will about Harden, he is a 10.
Proven Winners but need the championship to give him his dues. Winning comes natural. Again, Harden is a 10.
Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler for example.
A player with the experience but needs either the support on the court or to adjust his game to get to the next level. Something on the court they are doing is a distraction to him or his teammates. But a real f’n good player.
Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, and Karl Anthony-Towns.
So close to full potential but the moments haven’t presented itself to showcase what this player can do in big games and the sniff test becomes fully- ok I am all in.
Zion Williamson (really a 7.5 and an 8 by this time next year), Kris Middleton, and Bradley Beal.
A player that needs to continue to grasp at experiences to gain an advantage on the court. The name is there but the doubt that they can become a star is also still there.
Trae Young, Julius Randle, and Zach LaVine.
Level 5-1: Coming soon...
Devin Booker sees himself as an 8, plays like a 7, and has a chance to become a 9 by the time his first playoff run ends.
For years, I thought Booker was the next Kobe Bryant, then at times I thought of him as the third best player on a Championship contending team. Depending on how these playoffs shape out, Booker could be the third best player on this Suns team. But that does not hurt his progress in leveling up his star status.
The in-game experience gives fans a real look at what Bookers body language is telling us. Taking away his competitive spirit, the officials have had a hold on Booker during games this season. He has learned to cope with his feelings and hold most of it in, and in spurts, release it into something better on offense to help his teammate begin to look at him as he sprouts on the court.
The beanstalk leading to the giant ability to be the main focus for the opposing teams defense is growing strong. That is what might take away his ability to really make an impact if he struggles to get rid of the ball when the double or triple-teams start to weigh him down.
Unfolding from there, Deandre Ayton could take that attention away from Booker like a tug-of-war and free up Booker offense for good looks at the rim. From there, the ball either goes in or it doesn’t and that is when we begin to call Booker what we want. Either the guy, or a way to go to being the guy on this Suns team. The Aggressive Ayton has a major roll in Bookers leveling up.
A name that I left off of the 10’s list is Chris Paul, the man who can really clear a cleaner path to a superstar role for Booker, compared to what Booker had to go through the last few years in Phoenix.
Paul has been ON this team from the start, and that is probably the light way of putting it. The bumps and bruises that Booker gets in this years playoffs will not be bandaged up by Paul. Paul is going to spread poison ivy on the wounds to make this team tougher.
In many crutch time minutes for the Suns, Paul has taken over to hit remarkable fade-away shots and dagger threes. Come playoff time, those will most likely go to the hot shooter between Booker and Paul. A piece written by me about a month ago read that Mikal Bridges is a valuable option as a guy to go-to late in games. Bridges has managed to take over a few games since, and most likely because the defenses have to worry about both Booker and Paul… and sometimes Ayton.
Booker will receive those possessions late in the clock, down by one or two points or even a tied ball game. How he responds and what he does with the ball is what will move the needle to success. A champion or a chump. Chump is a harsh word, but Paul George has managed to take the name with his playoff performances in the past. It took him many years and a lot of unbelievably bad play in the playoffs, so Booker is far from that.
However Booker lands on his feet after the playoffs, and you know those feet will already have gym shoes tied and ready to train, that next step gets him closer to the player he wants to be. The bounce back to what may be an exit in the playoffs at some point, just because the Brooklyn Nets are “healthy” now and if you make it that far, I doubt any team can defeat that.
Knowing that things are just now getting started in Phoenix, opens up a new world of possibilities for Booker. The on court effect of creating highlights that will last a lifetime begins soon.