Phoenix Suns: Jamal Murray talks about should-have-been Devin Booker pairing

Phoenix Suns (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Jamal Murray remembers that the Phoenix Suns passed him by in the NBA Draft

The Phoenix Suns have made some poor decisions in the NBA Draft, but really, who hasn’t?

Since 2015, the Suns have drafted OK, but they’ve left players like Caris LeVert, Pascal Siakam, De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, and Bam Adebayo on the board for Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson. Yikes. Those are glaring mistakes.

Fans, as well as the organization, have to live with this reality now and hope there is a brighter future ahead with James Jones leading the roster construction. Just this week, Jones went all-in on winning and landed Chris Paul in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to finally get Devin Booker his star teammate.

Things are certainly looking up, but just as that was happening, something had to bring things crashing back down to reality.

The Phoenix Suns considered Jamal Murray in the 2016 NBA Draft

In 2016, the Phoenix Suns decided to take a risk and select Dragan Bender with the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft. Bender ultimately never had much of an impact on the Suns squad, with his best season in Phoenix being the one in which he landed 13th in box plus-minus on the team for the season.

His averages as a Sun were 5.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game, shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Left on the board when Bender was taken? Jamal Murray out of Kentucky.

Murray has proven his worth as a pro player averaging 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game in his 2019-20 campaign. Murray had an electric performance in the fan-less Disney Bubble, averaging 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game in the postseason (scoring 50 points twice in one series). Murray has appetized what Nuggets fans expect will be his first All-Star season in 2020-21.

For Suns fans, it’s a painful reminder that they could have had a championship-caliber team without having to swap assets to get a player like Chris Paul.

Murray reminded fans in a recent podcast appearance on Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles that he was available at four, five, and six.

"“[Boston] needed a wing, so they took Jaylen Brown for Boston, they took Dragan Bender on Phoenix, so it could have been me and Book in the backcourt. Minnesota had Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Towns, they took Kris Dunn. Then Pelicans took Buddy and then that’s when I was like, well where am I going?”"

“It could have been a lot of fun,” Murray said of the possible pairing with Devin Booker.

Sure could have. Booker and Murray are two of the most dynamic at-will scorers in the league. Envisioning a pairing between the two isn’t perfect. Both probably need the ball in their hands quite a bit and hypothetically, it might not be the best team basketball. But that much offense would be smothering for even some of the league’s best defensive units.

What’s done is done, and the NBA Draft is not an exact science. Bender was a bad pick, but a few other teams passed up on Murray as well. At the end of the day, the future is bright for Suns basketball.

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