The Phoenix Suns have been the definition of disfunction over the last decade. Nine seasons in a row with zero playoff appearances. They haven’t won more then 24 games in the last three seasons. The years of Charles Barley, Kevin Johnson and Steve Nash have become a distant memory, a mirage of greatness in the the Phoenix desert. But suddenly you see civilization, water, food and air conditioning! Brought to you by the leagues newest star Devin Booker.
Over their first three NBA seasons:
|Steph Curry||Devin Booker|
|PPG 16.3||PPG 19.8|
|RPG 3.93||RPG 3.3|
|APG 5.6||APG 3.5|
Devin Booker was drafted by the Suns out of Kentucky in 2015. There was small fanfare to his pick at number 13. Booker seemed like a solid role player that could be a piece to help an NBA team. Booker quickly proved to be more then just a role player. Shooting 40% and averaging over 20 points a game in his sophomore season Booker became the quiet leader of a Suns team that had been lacking a star. Not since Steve Nash’s final season in 2012 has there been a player that was putting Phoenix on the map. Booker took the role and ran with it during troubling times.
2017 was a season to forget for the Suns. Eric Bledsoe took to twitter proclaiming he no longer wanted to play in Phoenix last season causing issues in the locker room. The problems in the locker room continued into the front office as the Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season. With Watson gone the Suns decided to move on from their troubled guard Bledsoe. Moving Bledsoe to the Bucks weakened the roster but signaled a change in the culture. The Suns went into tank mode. But losing sometimes has its advantages in professional sports.
Phoenix selected Deandre Ayton out of the University of Arizona with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. Adding Ayton has given the Suns a player to build along side Booker. The presence of an inside force will allow freedom for Booker to work against one-on-one matchups. Adding sharpshooting veterans Jamal Crawford, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza will provide the leadership for the team and guidance for a young emerging star. The addition also puts Josh Jackson and TJ Warren to move to the bench creating tough matchups for second units.
Phoenix showed their commitment to Booker in the offseason signing him to a five-year, $158 million maximum contract extension over the summer. Booker is now locked up for the future. The pieces are being put into place around him with with Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren and Mikal Bridges. The Suns will not be great this season but people will see the greatness of the next big star in the league. Booker opened up the season showing the ability of an elite player, finishing with 35 points and 19 in the fourth quarter with the game still on the line. Booker’s 35 was the most by a Suns player in an opening day night game since Kevin Johnson put up 35 in 1993.
Phoenix got the win on opening night against a fellow rebuilding team in the Dallas Mavericks. If Booker can avoid injury and play a full season the league will see a rise in every statistic. Booker will take the next step in his career, remember he is just turning 22 at the end of October. The next great star is in Phoenix and his name is Devin Booker.