It seems like everywhere Devin Booker goes these days, he is getting showered with praise. Fresh off the release of his signature shoe, Booker finds himself as the focal point for a contending team, and has Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal to call his teammates.
Valley of the Suns readers recently voted Booker the greatest Sun of all-time as well — so really, what more could he want? Even Drake has said once he’s come off the road from his most recent tour that he plans to spend some time in The Valley in order to just sit back and appreciate Booker’s greatness firsthand.
According to former Suns center Tyson Chandler though, he got in on Booker’s greatness on the ground floor.
Chandler recently appeared on the always entertaining All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, and had the following to say about playing with a rookier Booker back in 2015-16.
"“We were playing pickup and he was able to pickup quick, I tell him something once and BOOM! Young players don’t work like that you know and instantly I knew that this kid is special like he gonna be special.. I was like, ‘I’m gonna be honest with y’all, the best player you got on your roster is that kid. I was like me, them… this roster, he better than all of us.”"
It is not like Chandler has rose-tinted glasses regarding a rookie Booker either. Although he didn’t quite explode onto the scene, it was clear from his 13.8 points in 76 games that he had something. By his sophomore outing, that number had shot up to 22.1 points on 36.3 percent shooting from deep.
It would also be fair to say that Booker didn’t exactly have a ton of help when he got to Phoenix either, and it wasn’t until that 8-0 run in the NBA’s bubble and the subsequent arrival of Chris Paul that fortunes really started to change for the franchise. Chandler echoed those sentiments;
"“So I signed with the Suns and I didn’t even know the Suns’ roster to be honest, and they had just signed back Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight and that’s like who they were so high on and then I come in and I’m playing pickups and I’m seeing the roster like who’s on this team and then Book came.”"
We all know now that neither Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight were long-term solutions for the Suns, and if anything they were impeding Booker from blossoming into the superstar that he is today at only 26-years-old. Still, it is nice to see a player who was one of Booker’s best ever teammates have such positive things to say about him.
This video of the two from seven years back is an enjoyable watch and walk down memory lane as well. It is clear Chandler has a lot of time for Booker, and Suns fans remember Chandler fondly as well, even if his motives for joining the Suns when past his prime had nothing to do with basketball.
"“The reason why I went to Phoenix was because my mom was sick, my mum was battling cancer at the time…. cause I had got offers elsewhere but I wanted to stay as close as I can to her so I can drive her to appointments and stuff like that.”"
Booker will be hoping to lead the Suns to a first ever NBA championship in 2023-24, and if he can do that, the Chandler really will be able to claim that he saw greatness before the rest of the world with this one. He won’t be able to do this alone, but he has to be their best player in order to get it done. Something Chandler surely thinks he is capable of doing, even with Durant on the roster.