The NBA screwed Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker out of his first career All-Star berth – for the second time. There is a simple way of never screwing him, or any other player like him, again.
Because NBA players are generally a bit whiny about playing for free (or at least very little), All-Star Games have continuously become less and less competitive over the past decade, with the league’s final straw being the 2016 and 2017 games in which literally zero defense was played and the two Conferences scored a combined 743 points in two games.
Because of this, the league decided to change the rules a bit and have the two leading vote getters become team Captains who will draft their own rosters based on the combined list of starters (who were voted on by the fans) and reserves (who were voted on by the coaches).
However, rather than being full-on radical about changing the rules all-together, the league has maintained a variance of the old system, keeping the original roster selections based on the two Conferences.
Therefore, while the two teams are intermixed, the voting is still balanced more heavily in favor of the Western Conference (at the moment) as Western Conference teams remain where the bulk of the league’s top talent have settled.
While I am personally not a fan of the new draft system in general as it is (why professional entertainers cannot play competitively for the enjoyment of the fans who are funding their salaries is a sign of tremendous selfishness and laziness on their parts), the keeping of the old selection system while changing the complexion of the rosters has screwed Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker from a well-deserved All-Star selection not just once, but twice.
While geography still makes sense in the scheduling of the playoffs, if the All-Star Game itself has no geographic bearing anymore, then geography should have no matter in one exhibition game and thus the league’s best players should be invited into the game regardless of their team’s regional locale.
So how has this screwed Devin Booker?
In 2019, Victor Oladipo was forced to miss the All-Star Game due to injury (he had been voted in by the fans as a starter) thus requiring a health replacement to take his spot in the game.
Had the rosters been simply East vs West, then it would have made perfect sense to select an Eastern Conference player to fill the void.
However, while the voting and selection process were both East/West based, the teams were then intermixed following the “draft” by LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo so one would have thought that anyone in either Conference could have been selected to fill Oladipo’s void.
Although on a 10-48 team (in the midst of a 17-game losing streak) Devin Booker was averaging 24.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.9 steals per game, while shooting 46.0% from the field – at least on an individual level, All-Star worthy.
The league filled the void with another Eastern Conference player, Book’s best friend D’Angelo Russell, who on the 30-29 Brooklyn Nets, was averaging 20.3 points (4.3 less than Booker), 3.2 rebounds (.8 less than Booker), 6.6 assists (.1 less than Booker), 1.1 steals (.2 more than Booker), while shooting 43.6% from the field (2.7% less than Booker).
Okay, that stung, but Phoenix was really bad.
But now the Suns are doing much better, and although they still have a losing record, they are significantly improved over last season – and so is Devin Booker.
With eight games before the All-Star Break, Booker is averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.8 steals, while shooting 51.0% from the field, 36.8% from beyond the arc, and 91.7% from the free throw line.
Those are All-Star numbers without a shadow of a doubt.
And yet, because of the league’s continuance to stick to the idea of only selecting players by Conference although not playing them on Conference-based teams, Devin Booker has been screwed, again.