On Sunday, Luka Doncic gave Phoenix Suns fans another reason to bemoan the fact their team passed up on him in the 2018 NBA draft.
Luka mania jumped to a new level Sunday afternoon when he drained a step-back deep 3 buzzer-beater to beat the LA Clippers in the first round of the playoffs to tie the series 2-2. It capped off an unreal 43-point, 17-rebound, and 13-assist triple-double. As if that wasn’t enough, he did it all on a twisted ankle that had him visibly hobbling at times and without his costar, Kristaps Porzingis, who sat out with a knee injury. Perhaps no fan base took more notice than that of the Phoenix Suns.
It marked only the third time in NBA history a player ever recorded at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists. The other two to do it were Oscar Robinson and the Phoenix Suns’ own Charles Barkley during that tremendous 1993 playoff run. From what we know, though, Barkley and Robinson did it on two healthy ankles.
Here’s a question: how long did it take Portland Trail Blazers fans to get over the fact their team took Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan? I’m not saying Luka is the next Jordan, but wow.
Perhaps slightly compounded by the recent words of Ryan McDonough, the GM pseudo-responsible for drafting Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic, this special moment sent yet another shockwave of frustrations through the fans.
Doncic could have been on the Phoenix Suns.
What would the Phoenix Suns look like with both Devin Booker and Luka Doncic?
So, in a question that is halfway between a justification for not drafting him and genuine curiosity, would Luka and Devin Booker have worked well together on the court?
Luka is incredibly ball-dominant in his venture to those gaudy statistics. There is a somewhat reasonable argument that because of this, Booker would not be the Booker we know him as today. He would have the ball in his hands much less often with Luka at the helm who would likely steal the show most games.
Simply put, Luka would keep the ball away from Booker more than he should, thus frustrating Book and diminishing his play.
Furthermore, Luka seems to work well with pick-and-pop big men (i.e. Porzingis), and thus pairing him with a skilled perimeter scorer wouldn’t work.
Having said all that, let’s not be ridiculous.
Of course, the two would work together. Players of that caliber find a way to leverage their talents and make it happen. This isn’t the best comparison but look at Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. If they were on opposite teams, you might think putting two volume shooters in the same backcourt would cause issues, but they have proven this decidedly untrue.
In fact, in this game alone, the likes of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 25 and 21 points respectively. Imagine if you replaced one of those with Devin Booker.
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As the great Adolf Rupp once said, “Donkey’s don’t win the derby,” meaning the more thoroughbreds on your team, the better chance you have of victory. Make no mistake, Luka and Book are somewhere between Secretariat and American Pharoah.
That doesn’t mean Ayton is a donkey.
He is a really, really, really good player and has the skill set to be great one day. If he wasn’t suspended for 25 games, the Suns probably would have come away with at least a few extra wins and make the playoffs this season. He is going to keep improving and the combo of he and Booker is going to be the cornerstone of many great Phoenix Suns teams of the future. Fans should be excited about that.
But let’s not go as far as saying, “Luka wouldn’t have worked with Booker, so it is better the Suns picked Ayton.”
Come on. That’s a load of donkey crap.