Why Isn’t Suns Guard Devin Booker Getting more MVP Love?

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

The lacking MVP love for Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker makes some, and absolutely zero sense both at the same time.

Now in my opinion, the criteria which most use to decide who wins the MVP is flawed. That being said, when you look at the historical precedent for how the MVP is awarded, Booker’s place far down on the MVP ladder right now is understandable.

In layman’s terms, the MVP has typically been awarded to whoever has the best counting stats on the best team. Some exceptions include Steve Nash both years that he won, Russell Westbrook in 2017, and Stephen Curry in 2015.

Among that list, you find guards who either did not put up the best stats/best record, but were chosen for the award based largely on circumstance and timing.

I mention this because in order for Booker to find his niche in the race, he would have to emulate something similar this season, as he also lacks those eye-popping stats just like Nash, Westbrook and Curry did.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is in a narrative wasteland

Let’s compare. In 2015, Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game, on 63.8 percent true shooting. His Warriors also finished with a 65-17 record that year.

Curry got the hardware not only because his team routinely blew out its opponents to the point where he hardly had to play fourth quarters, but because he shot double-digits above the league average for true shooting percentage, which made his pedestrian numbers look better.

Devin Booker this season is averaging 25.2 points, 4.3 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting near the league average with a 55.2 true shooting percentage.

Although his defense is wildly underrated this year and has been improving for some time now, these numbers put Booker in an awkward narrative space where he is not quite Steph Curry, and also is not quite Steve Nash—who both won thanks to hyper efficient numbers and by helping their teams put up fantastic records.

This is only amplified by the fact that MVP voters see and acknowledge the potential for a Steve Nash archetype of MVP right next to Booker in Chris Paul.

By fitting this pre-established mold as a guy who is posting efficient numbers with double digit assists, and low turnovers, on a team that could win 60+ games, it all sets up CP3 to attain tons of MVP love—even despite arguably not being the best player on his own team.

Paul’s clutch play combined with his solid relationship with the media only makes him that much easier to vote for as well. Like it or not, that all pulls from Booker’s MVP case.

Starting to build the MVP case for Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker

Booker’s almost nonexistent “blow your mind,” stats is something that can change at any moment. We all know he’s a walking 30-piece on any given night, even averaging over 32.0 points during the team’s recent 11-game winning streak.

On top of being his team’s go-to scorer, a remodeled defender, and arguably the best player on the league’s best team, the Suns have won 37 out of 41 games with Booker in the lineup.

These simple anecdotes would put most players in the MVP discussion, but Booker’s relationship with the media is a very strange one. He is largely overlooked for a reason I cannot seem to pinpoint. For example, most players like Booker who have stayed with their team through thick and thin would find extra appreciation as a result, but such acknowledgement has escaped the Phoenix guard.

But what Booker still brings to this team also remains very clear, and the fact that he remains typically on the outside looking in at the MVP discussion has me confused.

The Milwaukee Bucks have been either hurt or losing for the entire year, so Giannis Antetokounmpo does not possess the strongest case right now. Curry has been slumping for the better part of three months and has effectively shot himself out of MVP conversation. The LeBron James led Lakers are not good enough to warrant serious MVP buzz, and same goes for Nikola Jokic and the sixth seeded Nuggets. Durant will be out for an extended period of time as well. At some point you have to look DBook’s way.

I’m not saying we should ignore historic numbers being dropped on the daily, or that record is all that matters. There are also other legitimate candidates such as Joel Embiid, DeMar DeRozan, and Ja Morant that deserve recognition.

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But when you have a guy who can elevate himself to superstar levels on any given night, and has been doing so for the better part of a month, again on the best team in the league, that guy deserves a chance to compete for the MVP.