Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker a victim of his own smooth game

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is a good athlete, but he’s not springing up for vicious dunks nor jamming on opponents for Sportscenter highlights. Much like his backcourt teammate Chris Paul, Booker relies on skill to mesmerise opponents and rip out their hearts.

Devin Booker’s game doesn’t lend itself to the hype that many of his contemporaries receive, making him continually underrated outside Phoenix Suns fans.

Last week we discussed the comparison between Booker and Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum, pondering why the latter is automatically considered the better player and the more exciting future prospect?

Now the same aspect arises in relation to Booker and Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant. With NBA 2K23 to be released on Friday, player ratings have begun leaking across social media. This includes Booker, the cover athlete, who’s been given a 91, and Morant who’s one of three players, alongside Tatum and Jimmy Butler, to be given a 93.

Phoenix Suns
Ja Morant and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

What has Morant done to prove himself a better player than Booker at this stage? That he’s been more successful earlier in his career? That’s undoubtedly true, but the Suns cornerstone never had teammates the calibre of Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr in his early years.

Morant put up slightly better offensive numbers last season, but his defensive consistency remains an issue while Booker took major strides on that end. Phoenix and Memphis finished as the top two teams in the West, yet both fell in the Conference Semifinals.

The easiest thing to do is simply disregard the 2K ratings, which many will do. However, there’s also a poignant question of asking ourselves, “okay, why and how have 2K produced these ratings?”

It’s fair to say there’s a marketability factor here, which is incredibly ironic given Booker is the cover athlete. Morant has a mixtape of devastating slams and acrobatic, awe-inspiring finishes, while Booker is blessed with a smooth, pure game that although equivalently effective, isn’t necessarily the talk of the NBA universe on a regular basis.

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This isn’t an argument about who will be the better long-term player – most will give Morant that nod. It’s about evaluating players for who they are overall, rather than being influenced by individual plays that are subsequently shared by millions on social media.