Comparing Booker and Ayton to the NBA’s top duos

Devin Booker Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Devin Booker Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Next season all eyes will be on a number of new superstar pairings across the NBA. For the Phoenix Suns, that pairing takes form in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

The era of the “big three” is officially over.

With its passing, a new trend has swept the NBA. Dynamic duos are the newest commodity in the league and the past few weeks have reflected the flash-sale mentality teams are using to acquire partners for their superstars.

While teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets struck gold this offseason, others weren’t so lucky – not everyone can have a LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard on their team.

Now enter the Phoenix Suns.

Although the Suns didn’t throw all their chips into NBA free agency, the team acquired pieces to build around their budding young core. The two obvious building blocks being guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton.

The two may not belong to the superstar tier just yet, but each has the potential to achieve such a level.

Booker is coming off a career-year, where he averaged 26.6 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field. Considered an All-Star snub by many, Booker has easily outplayed his draft spot of 13th overall in just four years in the league.

Partnering with Booker is Ayton, the number one overall pick of the 2018 draft. The big man may not have won Rookie of the Year (although some argue he should have), but certainly played like top-selection during his rookie season.

In 71 games, Ayton averaged a double-double with 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. He was also the only one from his draft class to average double-digit rebounding.

Sure the two might not average over 50 points a game, like the James Harden and Russell Westbrook combo might in Houston, but efficient scorers are sometimes overlooked.

Ayton led all rookies with a 20.5 player efficiency rating, while Booker at 20.2 was ranked third among qualified shooting guards

Another advantage Booker and Ayton have over the rest of the league is their age.

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At 22 (Booker) and 20 (Ayton) years old, they are among the youngest players in the league, period. That also means both will be in the NBA for the next decade and beyond.

Compared to the number of formidable pairings, they are significantly younger and have untouched ceilings that still can be reached.

Yes, you can argue that having Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in their prime is more valuable than during their early years in the league.

But as both Durant and Irving progressed in their career, each missed significant time with injuries. But with Booker and Ayton neither, has dealt with the “injury bug” and can be expected to play the near-to-full season.

But with youth, also comes inexperience.

That falls more to Ayton, who has just one season under his belt in the NBA. That makes him more of the Robin to Booker’s Batman.

Yes, Book is only two years older, but he’s played 272 games in the NBA and is already the face of the Suns.

That means while Ayton has the talent, it may take a couple seasons for him to maximize it fully.

With he and Booker being so young, there comes the added benefit that both are under contract until at least the 2022 season. Booker’s contract actually expires in 2024 after signing a five-year extension last season.

At a combined $36.8 million in cap space, the two actually cost less than the top-seven salaries for the 2019-20 season. In comparison, Stephen Curry tops the league with $40.2 million next year with Golden State.

Perhaps the worst is the $76.6 million the Rockets are investing in just Westbrook and Harden next season.

Suns fans should be relieved that until his rookie contract expires, Ayton will be a bargain for the team. While on the side, Booker will be playing to his expected value as his contract climbs to over $30 million in the coming seasons.

These contracts only add to the value Booker and Ayton pairing in Phoenix.

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Although they may not fall under the superstar tandem list just yet, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton epitomize what teams look for in a young duo for the Phoenix Suns. That being said, they could become the next pairing to elevate to superstar status.