Benefits of Devin Booker practicing with team USA

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Devin Booker #31 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Devin Booker #31 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Some of the league’s biggest stars took to Las Vegas Wednesday at the start of a three-day Team USA Minicamp. Devin Booker was invited to participate in this minicamp just before the conclusion of the season, and he now finds himself surrounded by greatness.

All-NBA’s. All-Stars. Former MVPs. Olympic Gold Medalists. NBA Champions. These are the accolades of many of the players that stack the roster of the US Men’s National Team practicing in Las Vegas this weekend.

Then there’s 21-year-old Devin Booker, the youngest of the participants, who doesn’t yet have nearly the resume or stature of the others. Yet, here he is, vying for a chance to represent his country on a bigger stage just like the rest of these stars.

It’s an accomplishment in and of itself that Devin was even invited to attend the minicamp and be included on the 2018-2020 Men’s National Team roster. It says a lot about what he’s done in this league, especially this last season.

Obviously, the right people were paying attention and a possible argument against him of “playing for a last place team” rightfully held no power in the decision.

This has been a huge summer for Devin already having already signed his max contract making him the wealthiest Phoenix Sun in history. And now he gets to practice alongside the stars of this league under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich.

Let’s try to put these last three days into perspective.

There’s been a lot of talk about how much of a role Devin’s participation in this minicamp can have in possibly recruiting some of these stars to Phoenix in the future, but I think it runs much deeper than that.

Yes, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and others are all going to get an up-close look at just how great a player Devin is. They’re going to see what we all see in him, and probably would consider the idea of teaming up with him one day – but that’s not going to be the immediate impact this minicamp has.

Devin gets to spend the better part of three days with around 25 of this league’s best players. He’s going to have three days to learn from them, to speak with them, and to take this all in. Just think of it, he’s among the best players in the NBA. Only 35 players out of the whole NBA are on this roster.

He’s there because he deserves it, but he can take so much more than that with him.

A major topic of discussion among fans and Suns players last season was the importance of a veteran presence. The importance of leadership, accountability, and development were things that even Devin himself often addressed in interviews.

Now, he’s surrounded by the greatest veterans and team leaders in the league. These are the captains of their teams, the guys that take the fate of their team into their own hands, and that want to be the very best.

I think this is where the real benefit of this minicamp lies. Look at the players who are there. They’re the best of the best, the most elite talent and established veterans.

We already see the leadership ability Devin has, and his hunger for greatness. But for a few days he gets to spend time with these guys, stars who collectively have probably faced every obstacle there is in the NBA. There’s a wealth of knowledge for him to soak up from all of these guys who many are where he wants to go.

I think we forget just how big a deal being named to Team USA Minicamp is. There’s not enough media coverage and practices aren’t even on television, but this is a huge deal. This is a team full of guys that would never get the opportunity to play together otherwise. They have the opportunity to earn a spot on a team that will represent the country, and have the privilege of wearing USA across their chests at the World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympics.

Of the 35 guys on this roster, only 12 will make the cut and be on the team that travels to China for the World Cup of Basketball next summer. There will be NBA superstars that don’t make this cut, and some that will never get to experience the Olympics, and the prestige of winning a Gold Medal.

Next. Way too early predicitions for the 2018-19 Phoenix Suns. dark

Devin’s getting a head-start because he’s there now, there are a lot of others that aren’t.

Being part of this roster is an accomplishment. This is a different type of highly competitive basketball. This is an honor, and of the 34 other players selected for this roster, not one of them is younger than Devin.

Don’t overlook this fact.

There were 12 players that were picked before Devin in the 2015 NBA Draft, but only one of them, Myles Turner, joined him in Las Vegas this week. He may be underrated by most NBA fans because he hides out in Phoenix, but we’re dealing with a special player.

We all know it, and after this week, maybe some more people will, too.