Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
It’s the offseason, where bad narratives are shouted into the void for reaction and we... react.
Today, I’ll talk about the small narrative (no link provided = deliberate) that “Devin Booker is a bad playoff player”. That, in fact, Mason Plumlee has had better elimination games than Book.
Sure yes, I took the bait, read the article, fumed a bit, and decided to cover it in this section of Suns Weekly. Mr. Hot Take rightly points out that Booker has not been good in elimination games. Nothing wrong with that take. Book’s three elimination game appearances are all bad performances that led to ugly losses:
- 19 points (8 of 22 shooting), 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 7-point loss to Bucks in 2021
- 11 points (3 of 14 shooting), 2 assists, 3 rebounds, 33-point loss to Mavericks in 2022
- 12 points (4 of 13 shooting), 8 assists, 1 rebound, 25-point loss to Nuggets in 2023
For a guy with career regular season averages of 23.9 points, 4.8 assists and 4 rebounds over 530 games, whose made three All-Star games and named first team All-NBA in 2022, those are piss poor performances in games where his team is on the ropes. What’s crazy is that the Suns had led or tied each of those series after 4 games, but the whole team fell apart in ways no one has explained. In fact, Booker has not even spoken to the media at all since the latest loss, having skipped that postgame and postseason pressers before summer vacation started.
That writer couldn’t just take the win, though. He tripped over it and broke his nose.
Instead of pointing out that Book is a bad elimination game player, the writer chose to say Book “has struggled in the postseason”, that “one rough area has been postseason play” and that he’s had “playoff issues”.
And then this final paragraph really went over the edge.
It’s surprising that Booker hasn’t been able to have better performances in the postseason. He is clearly a very talented player and performs well during the regular season, but when the playoff lights are on, things change. This is something that happens to players in every sport. The pressure can get to a guy. However, if Booker wants to take the next step in his career, he’ll need to show up more in the playoffs.
Come on, man. At least do your homework. At least do honest, trustworthy work.
Devin Booker has been REALLY good in the playoffs aside from elimination games. Since his playoff debut in 2021, Devin Booker has scored the second-most points (1,205) of ANY player, behind only Jayson Tatum who has played in more games. Book has played in the 8th most playoff games (43) since 2021 while shooting 52% from the field and 39% on threes, both higher than his stellar regular season marks.
Yes, his elimination games are so bad he doesn’t even want to talk about it. But his averages are higher in the playoffs than his regular season across the board — points (28 to 23.9, per game), assists (5.2 to 4.8), rebounds (5.2 to 4.0), field goal % (52.5 to 46.1), three-point percentage (39.2 to 35.6)... In short, he’s a three-time All-Star during the regular season and even better than that in the playoffs.
Let’s even narrow it down to the ridiculous stat used in that story. Mason Plumlee had scored 20 in his most recent elimination game (2023 vs. Suns), topping Booker’s career-high of 19 in elimination games. Booker was the second-leading scorer of his entire playoffs (33.7 per game) while dishing 7.2 assists and posting shooting splits of 58/50/86. While Mason Plumlee did score 20 in an elimination game loss, Book was scoring 47 points and dishing 10 assists to win that same game.
Booker scored 25 of those points in the 3rd quarter, taking the Suns from a large deficit to a game-clinching lead in the process. Keep an eye on the game score as this onslaught occurs.
Book has been bad in elimination games, but so have his teammates. Chris Paul’s elimination game numbers with the Suns (26/5, 10/4, 0/0/inj.), Deandre Ayton’s (12/6, 5/4, 0/0/inj), Mikal Bridges (7/2, 6/2) and Kevin Durant (23/5 but 0-fer the first half in shooting) are all embarassing too.
Book doesn’t struggle in the postseason. Quite the opposite. He thrives there. As long as he’s not the violin player on the deck of the Titanic.
Quotes of the Week
“Wear Test” — Devin Booker, on social teasing his new signature shoe with Nike
“Matrix and STAT. Much deserved. Appreciate y’all” — Book on social. Both Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire will attend the Suns home opener as a new Ring of Honor is unveiled, and then will return sometime during the season for their own custom halftime presentation to join the Ring.
Suns around the
Book, KD, DA, Beal and Bol Bol in LA together:
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Deandre Ayton, and Bol Bol spotted leaving a workout at UCLA— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 30, 2023
New Suns roster building chemistry
(via joy.of.everything/TT) pic.twitter.com/ttJYTfGvPJ
Yuta in Okinawa: Yuta Watanabe helps Japan to its first-ever World Cup wins (3-2 in the 2023 FIBA World Cup), and first-ever earned berth to the Olympics (2024). They’d previously participated in the 2021 Olympics as the host. Here’s one of Yuta’s best games.
Bleacher Report ranks KD (8), Book (9), Beal (34) and Ayton (54) among the Top 54 players in the NBA.
Good Bright Side reads you probably missed
Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.
- Dave — Stretch goals for Suns backups to cash in someday soon
- Brandon — Good midseason trade targets for the Suns
- Inside the Suns/Rod et al — Interesting lineups and breakthrough candidates
No transactions this week. Here’s the salary chart in case you need it.
And here’s the bottom line.
It doesn’t matter how close they look to the line, the Suns will be over the second apron this coming year. Teams must give NBA-level contracts to at least 14 players a year, and the Suns are already over the second apron at 13 guaranteed players this year and still over the apron at only 10 guaranteed players the next.
During this coming season, while being over the second apron, the Suns:
- cannot sign any high-salary buyout guys
- cannot acquire > 10% more salary than they send out in any trades
That means no more Terrence Ross signings after the trade deadline, and no more Durant and Beal trades the way they were done in bringing back significantly more salary.
If you think that’s tough, next year it gets tougher. If they remain over the second apron as projected after the last day of this coming season, the Suns:
- cannot pay more than league minimum for free agents from another team
- cannot trade the “seven years out” first round pick (2031)
- cannot acquire any players in sign-and-trade
- cannot send out cash in any trades
- cannot take back ANY more salary than they send out
- can only do one-for-one trades for salary-matching purposes (no salary aggregation of multiple players)
If they remain over the second apron twice in the following four years (i.e. three of five), starting NEXT season:
- those future frozen draft picks are moved to the END of the first round (they can later be unfrozen if the team gets below the second apron 3 out of 4 years)
In short, trades get tough for the teams over the second apron, including the Suns, Celtics, Nuggets and Clippers (This list only leaves out the Warriors and Bucks because Klay Thompson and Jrue Holiday are merely Bird Rights free agents until they re-sign).
Important Future Dates
- Oct. 2: Media Day!
- Oct. 3: Training camp opens for teams like the Suns, who stay in the States for preseason
- Oct. 5: Start of preseason
- Oct. 20: End of preseason
- Oct. 24: Start of 2023-24 regular season; Suns are @ the Warriors on NBA’s Opening Night on TNT to help open the 2023-24 NBA season.
- Nov. 3: NBA In-Season Tournament begins
- Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals
- Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals
- Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
- April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends
This week’s poll
Team USA (top-ranked) lost their last group game, to 9th-ranked Lithuania, before the quarterfinals start this week. They finish group play 3-1. Now, only 8 teams remain in the tourney.
Team USA has been the top-ranked team all along, but are a little undersized and unproven on the biggest international stage. Team Canada is similar to the USA, in that they are a collection of NBA talent trying to win on the fly, while the other countries have less talent but a lot more familiarity with each other. All it takes is one bad game to go him without a medal.
Team USA has to go 3-0 this week to win the Gold. They start against Italy (no current NBA players). Winner plays the winner of Germany (4 current NBA players) vs. Latvia (0 current NBA players). Win that, and it’s probably Team Canada (6 NBA players) or Serbia (2 current NBA players) for the Gold.
How will Team USA finish
This poll is closed
Out of the medals (4th or lower)
Silver or Bronze