Devin Booker is hurt again. On a team that is only good with Booker on the court yet doesn’t win much when he is, can the Phoenix Suns ever count on him as a “1-A” star?
One thing that Devin Booker has never been called since he was selected by the Phoenix Suns in 2015 is “soft.”
Suns fans might argue that he could be compared with some of the all-time tough players (like Allen Iverson) in regards to the all-out mentality he plays with while on the court.
And yet he has spent a lot of time off the court in his short career with various injuries that for a time helped the tanking franchise with it’s ultimate goal of losing for lottery odds, but has also hurt a team now desperate for wins.
While Booker must play through pain as often as possible, between last season and this, the amount of injuries seem to be piling up:
2015-16 – 6 missed games (although some of those were Earl Watson DNP-CDs)
2016-17 – 3 missed games
2017-18 – 28 missed games
2018-19 – 4.5 missed games (through 23, and is out indefinitely with this re-aggravation of his hamstring)
If Booker is going to miss games every year with injuries here and there (often caused by his going all out which will continue so long as he plays with his style of aggression – which I hope he always does), then the team needs to also be built around another true star who can actually pick up the load that Booker must occasionally set down and prevent the team from extended losing streaks in his absence.
(For the time being, Deandre Ayton cannot pick up that load, and I truly fear that he never will be able).
This is in no way an attack on Booker’s character or ability either. He is not necessarily injury-prone per se, and is currently playing out of position while trying to carry his team on his back.
But then there is another thing:
When healthy, he is attempting to carry the team and they are still not winning many games.
Heck, this season he was given the most ball-centric role on the court any individual player can have, and they currently have a worse record through 23 games last season – the franchise’s second worst season in it’s 50-year history.
Let us be honest: the Phoenix Suns from top to bottom are not very good – but they shouldn’t be this bad.
Granted, Phoenix does not have a legitimate starting point guard on the roster, yet as the team’s acting point, Booker is still averaging 6.7 assists per game which is more than Eric Bledsoe has ever averaged in his career.
For a time Booker had even been averaging over 7.0 this season, but even his current average is still tied for the 14th best in the NBA which is ahead of a bevy of All-Star caliber point guards and tied with the world’s greatest player: LeBron James.
And while his 3-point shooting is down significantly this year from last (31.3% from 38.3% in 2017-18), with a complete stat line of 23.5p/3.6r/6.7a/1.2s, what more can he do to help the team win?
The kid is doing everything he personally can, and not only are the Suns currently in last place in the Western Conference, they are mind-boggling 6.5 games out of 14th place in the West – a greater gap than 14th place is to FIRST, which is only 5.5 games (as of the night of December 3)!
Obviously he needs help, but the fact that it looks like he needs another star for him to win, doesn’t that maybe mean that he can’t carry a team the way we think he should and that he actually is better suited to be the 1-B?