The leap that Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton need to make this year

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker Deandre Ayton (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Devin Booker Deandre Ayton (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The still-mostly young Phoenix Suns will not be given respect, their stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will have to earn  it.

It is evident that the Phoenix Suns have two budding superstars in Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker. However, there are steps that need to be made by both of them to gain the respect they deserve from the rest of the league.

When Devin Booker burst onto the NBA scene in 2015, he was still a 19-year-old who had started a total of zero games in college.

Would learning the ways of the NBA take him years?

Fortunately, no.

Booker was named to the All-Rookie team averaging nearly 14 points per game and shooting 34% from 3-point range. The Suns realized early that Booker could be a star but surely could not have predicted what he did next.

The jump he made from year one to year two was incredible: started all 78 games he played in, he increased his points per game to 22 and showing the franchise that he would be a house-hold name for years to come.

Booker has only gotten better as his career has gone on too.

His scoring average increased every year; minutes played have gone up as well; his field goal percentage and rebounds and assists have also increased every year.

What has not increased are his team’s wins.

Booker has clearly continued to improve, but the Phoenix Suns as a whole have not.

While Booker looks to be a superstar in the making, it feels like he has more to prove this year than any other year.

Many feel that this will be Booker’s best supporting cast he has ever had. Ricky Rubio looks to maximize Booker’s talent, while taking away a lot of pressure from him.

Kelly Oubre will be playing his first full season as a Sun and has looked to be flipping a switch the Suns need in the locker-room.

Mikal Bridges looks to make the year two jump that could be something special.

Dario Saric will look to be a playmaker for the Suns and again take pressure off of Booker.

Finally, Deandre Ayton, should make a legitimate leap this season under new head coach Monty Williams, which I will get to the jump he needs to make later.

Overall, James Jones and the Phoenix Suns have made moves this offseason in the hope of relieving the large amount of pressure that Booker has had to deal with in his first four seasons.

Booker still needs to get better.

Devin Booker has yet to be named an All-Star.

He has yet to be on a team that wins 30 games.

He has yet to be healthy for a full season.

There is a lot of room for him to grow defensively.

Booker needs to make the leap from budding superstar who could eventually lead a team to the playoffs, to a player who jumps out the television as  a superstar. Booker has the ability to average 30 points a game, and it seems attainable if he is indeed healthy for all 82 games.

He is only 22-years-old and most say he is nowhere near his prime. But who is to say his prime can’t start next year and go on for an extended period of time?

It seems Booker has began to develop a certain dog mentality in his young career, and it seems he is up for any challenge and wants to be a legend in Phoenix.

In order for the Suns to reach their peak next year and the years to come, it is going to be on the shoulders Devin Booker and one other player…

Deandre Ayton

In a rookie season that was not filled with records and achievements with the likes of Kareem Abdal-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, there is still a lot to build off of.

Watching the Phoenix Suns day in and day out, Ayton was at times frustrating to watch because he would have moments of “this guy could be an all-time player” and then there would moments of “this guy could be so much better.”

Ayton made the All-Rookie team and averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game, his season-best a game in which he finished with a dominating 33 points and 14 boards against Nikola Jokic.

However, he also had games where he scored 4 points against the Los Angeles Clippers – not once but twice.

That level of inconsistency with the young bigman was at times hard to watch during the season, thus the need for improvement was evident.

From his college days in Arizona to his professional career with the Suns, his willingness, work ethic, and ability to play hard have been questioned.

The first step Ayton needs to make is silencing those people who question the effort he puts into his craft, and how hard he plays. Ayton needs to play hard every game, and if he makes mistakes playing hard, than the Suns can work with that.

The motor just has to be there.

He has to begin to dominate, and has to begin to be a problem to the established big men in the league.

With the addition of  Rubio, Ayton’s production has to go up this year. He did everything last year without a point guard.

Rubio’s ability to play out of the pick and roll and make plays should only benefit Ayton. The league has seen players like Jokic, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, and Anthony Davis take huge steps from their rookie year to their second year

Ayton’s second year should be very similar – like Booker’s.

His play should jump off the television. His number should go up. And the league should be talking about how Ayton should be an All-Star.

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Ayton and Booker have been constantly overlooked due to the fact of the Phoenix Suns winning 19 games last year. Both of them have the chance to prove a lot of people wrong, and turn the heads of many fans and people around the league. The head turning will not come without them both taking the leaps they need to make.