Devin Booker gives the Phoenix Suns superteam insurance

May 7, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
May 7, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The tale of superteams in the NBA is a cautionary one. The recent history of the league is littered with franchises that went all-in, only to come up short. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, the Nets again, and the L.A. Clippers have tried to maximize small championship windows at the expense of sustained, long-term success.

The Phoenix Suns and others’ status as a superteam is up for debate; the term has been applied pretty liberally in recent years. But superteam or not, they do share the most prominent characteristic that all-in teams universally have: They’ve sacrificed depth for star power by giving up control of their draft picks for the foreseeable future.

Fans are understandably worried about what happens when Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal’s contracts are up in three and four years, respectively. Failed, and even some successful superteams usually have to endure long periods of bad basketball without any hope of getting anything good in the draft.

However, the Suns do have something, or rather someone, that sets them apart from a lot of past superteams. Someone that makes their future much less murky, whether they win or lose with this current iteration of the team.

That someone is, of course, superstar Devin Booker.

Young stars like Booker are so often used to facilitate trades for other stars in the building of these teams, yet he remains as the core piece to this Suns franchise. And there’s a big emphasis on “young” since Booker is just 26-years-old.

He’s now entering what is widely considered to be the prime years for most basketball players. His otherworldly postseason performance this year showed he still has room to reach an even higher level than what we had seen from him.

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Now likely to take on the lion’s share of the playmaking, he could morph into the kind of offensive player that can singlehandedly keep a team in playoff contention. He has a real chance at entering the discussion for the top five players in the league, a spot typically reserved for players who can be the clear best player on a championship team.

If Booker makes that leap, the Suns will remain championship contenders as long as there’s any semblance of talent around him. Even if he never reaches that pantheon, he might bring an even more important skill to the table in today’s NBA: his recruiting ability. Booker is your favorite player’s favorite player.

He’s been heralded by legends of the game ever since he came into the league. Chris Paul has cited Booker as the main reason he wanted to come play with the Suns. Durant has long respected Booker’s game which was no doubt pivotal in his recruitment. And now Beal is here on the team that Booker built.

That respect isn’t likely to wane, and it might even increase depending on what happens over the next couple of seasons. That recruitment ability can lead to the next wave of stars and role players that want to play with Book.

Of course, recruiting doesn’t matter when you don’t have the necessary tradable assets to go out and get talent. It would seem like the Suns would be out of luck then, but their draft future isn’t as dire as it’s being made out to be.

They do have a first round pick every other year, albeit heavily swapped ones. That’s a non-issue though if Booker is keeping the team out of prime draft position since those picks would be late first rounders no matter what.

More importantly, the Suns will start to regain tradable picks as we move into the future. You’re only allowed to trade picks seven years down the line, which the Suns did when acquiring Durant. By the time Durant and Beal’s contracts are up, the Suns will have several more first rounders that they can trade to either supplement or replace those players.

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The Suns will still have every avenue to surround Booker with talent as he heads into what should be a spectacular prime. When you put together a team like the Suns have, it usually means you’re going to have to accept some pretty lean years in the near future.

Knowing what we know now about how competitive owner Mat Ishbia is, it is highly unlikely he’ll be ok with that proposition, especially with the potential franchise GOAT still being in his early thirties. It feels like he is banking on Booker as a player and icon to keep this team not only relevant, but near the top. Given Booker’s career so far, it’s not a bad bet.