Let’s get it out of the way: I’m not upset that Devin Booker wasn’t named as an All-Star reserve. It makes sense. I have no major quarrels with anyone named a Western Conference all-star, and Booker has been hurt and only played 29 of 55 games this season.
It sucks to once again have no Phoenix Suns represented on the all-star team, but also I think it’s pretty much fair considering the circumstances. I’ve defended Deandre Ayton’s play as well as criticized it. And I think you could make an All-Star case for him. But can I make any kind of compelling case he deserved to be in above the frontcourt players who were selected? Not really.
That said, I know the players care about this. They’re proud men, with big egos, and whether they’ll admit it or not (some readily do, others play it coy) these sorts of personal accolades do matter to them. Chris Paul has his twelve all-star selections, missing this one in the twilight of his career probably isn’t going to bum him out.
We Suns fans know (or ought to, by now) what Booker brings to the table for us. He was labeled early in his career as an “empty stats” guy, drawing frequent comparisons to Bradley Beal for his tendency to put up big scoring numbers in blowout losses.
He’s a three-time All-Star now, and earned his first all-NBA selection last season. Those aren’t the accumulated accolades of a legend, but he’s well on his way to a career all but a tiny fraction of NBA players would envy.
Still, there are fans who at this point I think will never really embrace Booker beyond begrudgingly. They’ll always be quick to criticize him as being somehow selfish or hurting his teammates. But the Suns just aren’t very good without him, as we’ve seen pretty vividly these last few weeks. All-star or not, he has MVP value to the Suns.
My personal hope is that missing out on the honor lights a fire under Booker when he returns. There are those (myself included) who have wondered whether Booker has relinquished that top shooting guard spot in the NBA to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the talented Oklahoma City Thunder player who DID earn an all-star nod this year.
Well, Booker could prove the rumors are premature by roaring back and leading the Suns back to the NBA Finals. Being “the man” on the Suns’ first-ever championship team would be a feather in Booker’s cap that nobody could take away with any number of all-star snubs or unfavorable comparisons to SGA, Donovan Mitchell, or anyone else.
I’m ready for it.