Phoenix Suns: The case for Devin Booker over Damian Lillard for Bubble MVP

Devin Booker Damian Lillard Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Devin Booker Damian Lillard Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns have been the hottest team in the bubble with Devin Booker leading the way. But has he done enough to beat Damian Lillard for Bubble MVP?

By almost any measure, the NBA restart in the Disney bubble has been a roaring success. No player has tested positive since being there, and the unique environment has produced a great and unique brand of basketball the league hasn’t seen in some time. To spice things it up even further, the NBA will award All-Bubble teams including a Bubble MVP, and the Phoenix SunsDevin Booker is at the top of the list of potential recipients.

The problem is, look-at-me-I’m-Damian-Lillard-and-I’m-incredible-at-basketball has stepped in the last couple of games and lived up to his name. However, despite two absurd performances where he single-handedly dragged his team to victory in must-win games while racking up 50 and 60 points, there is a strong argument Devin Booker deserves to get the nod over him.

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There is a case for the Bubble MVP to go to Phoenix Suns’ star, Devin Booker.

First and foremost, consistency. While Damian Lillard has had those two insane scoring nights to boost his scoring average, before those, he had put up 29.4 points per contest prior to that, which, while still impressive, is still less than Booker’s 31 point average.

But I get it. It is unfair to throw out two of his biggest games, especially when this award is going to be decided upon a small sample size of just eight games.

That’s why my next point focuses on Lillard’s absolute choke job at the end of the LA Clippers game, when LA had all of their subs in, no less. Dame missed a 3-pointer and two consecutive clutch free throws that would have likely won it for the Blazers, but instead, the Clippers took the win.

Just think, what if Booker had done that!? Analysts from all over would be rushing to the first microphone or keyboard they could find to claim Devin is just an empty scorer who can’t lead his team to victories when they count. With Dame, last-minute choke-jobs in pressure situations are just shrugged off.

Booker, on the other hand, has led his team to seven straight wins and his own heroic antics, most notably the shot heard around the bubble. To put a finer point on it, that shot came against the LA Clippers, the same team Lillard choked against, except against Suns, the Clippers had the likes Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in the game late, not their second unit, as they did against the Trail Blazers.

Also, shouldn’t the element of surprise help? It usually does with the Coach of the Year award. So often it isn’t LeBron’s head coach that gets the honor, it is the guy heading up the team who wasn’t expected to do much at the beginning of the year but the team turns out much better than anyone thought.

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That is an exact description of the Phoenix Suns, who some predicted would go 0-8 in the bubble, and yet now have a chance go to 8-0. With all due respect to the work Monty Williams has done to get this team where they are, much of this success is because of Devin Booker.

And if the Suns go 8-0, what else does he have to do? That has long been the excuse for excluding Booker from All-Star games and other awards. “His team doesn’t win!” Now his team is winning, and he is by far the best player on the hottest team in the bubble. How is that not qualification for Bubble MVP?

Ultimately, it’ll likely come down to Thursday, where the Suns will need some help in addition to beating the Dallas Mavericks to make the play-in game. If Phoenix can get the win and the Blazers were to falter against the Nets, then Booker should be a lock for the MVP, but if not, I could see how some pre-conceived notions combined with that pair of monster performances could make voters cast their ballot for Lillard.

Booker would be happy to concede the award for a playoff birth, though, and that is what he and the Phoenix Suns are striving for. Thursday is a big day.

Next. What the Suns need to make the play-in games. dark