It is good that Devin Booker is not on the USA Training Camp team

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

USA Basketball announced the roster for their 2019 Training Camp, and 2018 participant and Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker has not been invited. Good.

Devin Booker is a well-known, but he has yet to reach a status in the NBA that makes his name one of the household variety.

Plenty of fans and talking heads around the league under-value and under-estimate just how good Devin Booker is for the Phoenix Suns, and for a pretty solid reason: while he averaged 26.6 points per game last season, his team only won 19 games.

In fact, the Phoenix Suns have won a total of 87 games in Booker’s four seasons in the league, averaging just 21.75 per year.

That is not how star players get respect.

But even though I want  Booker to become a household name and to reach a level of stardom in which we can put the word “super” before star when referencing him as a player (selfishly because it will mean that the Phoenix Suns are actually a good team) and I want  him to be so good that his name is added to the World Championship and Olympic rosters as a given and not as a player who has to earn a spot on the roster as an end of the bench reserve, I am glad that he was not selected for the 2019 USA basketball training camp roster.

For as important as an Olympic gold is, and as prestigious as being named to the USA roster is, fans of professional basketball would much rather see their NBA franchise win a title than see the USA win basketball gold.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Winning at USA basketball is an afterthought. While not what it once was with the Dream Teams, since the Redeem Team, gold is an expectation, not a challenge

But Devin Booker has a tremendous challenge before him: helping turn the Phoenix Suns into a winner, and the more focus that can be placed on that goal, the better.

Booker did make the original Men’s 35 player 2018-20 roster last year and had the opportunity to participate in that camp. Things seemed to go very well and Book apparently too had a chance to do a little recruiting (hopefully the fruits of that labor will show this summer).

However, for the first time in his career, he missed a number of games early  in the season, causing many fans to question if maybe his time spent playing for USA Basketball was a little too much and took away from his preparations for the Suns (Book missed the team’s 5-7th games, and ten total before Christmas).

While his stint with USA Basketball may have had nothing to do with that missed games, the time spent with one obviously took away from the other, meaning that his traditional offseason training regime had to have been different from previous summers.

We should all understand too that not making the training camp this year is not an insult to him. It is a testament to the number of great guards there are in the NBA right now. Do not forget: Kevin Johnson was originally left off the second Dream Team roster, something that he was very upset about, to the point that he wrote a letter that was published in the Arizona Republic.

Eventually KJ was added and with Suns teammate Dan Majerle Dream Team II won gold.

But Booker should  take this as a slight.

He should use this moment to question how a player who has averaged at least 24.9 points per game in the last two seasons, who is the youngest player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game, who last season dropped 59 points and followed that up with a 50 point game (and was one hyper-selfish Jimmer Fredette fourth quarter away from scoring 50 for a third consecutive game – finishing with 48), and who was the second runner-up in the 2017 3-point shooting contest behind hall of famers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, then winner of the contest in 2018, could be left off the roster in favor of the likes of Harrison Barnes, Eric Gordon, and… P.J. Tucker?

And yet, while he is a very impressive stat box stuffer, he has also never been an All-Star, he has never recorded a triple-double, he has never been to the playoffs, and, to be fair, he is not the kind of defensive standout player that fans wish he could be – probably the only reason that Tucker is anywhere near a training camp roster like Team USA.

Next. The Phoenix Suns need a Kumar Rocker. dark

As much fun and as important as making the Team USA training camp roster this August for Devin Booker as I am sure it is, I am glad, that at least this time, he is not going to participate. The Phoenix Suns need him in perfect working order when their own training camp begins in September, and they need him focused on improving his own game in the context of this team, and not another.

Specifically, he should learn every intricacy of new Head Coach Monty Williams‘ offense (and defense), becoming second-most knowledgeable to only Monty, and who knows: maybe he can even use this as an opportunity to recruit others who also failed to make the roster: “Hey, Lonzo Ball, let’s prove to everyone together that we should be there. Demand a trade to Phoenix. I need a point guard and you’re the perfect one.”