There is little doubt that when Devin Booker is on the court for the Phoenix Suns, he is one of the 10 best players in the NBA today. At age 27, Booker already has an NBA Finals appearance to his name, and last season led the postseason in scoring at 33.1 points per contest.
On top of that, all-time great Kevin Durant decided Booker was the player he should hitch his wagon to in pursuit of more championships. Walking away from James Harden and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets to head to The Valley and try and bring the Suns what would be the first championship in their history.
Plenty of fans have debated whether Booker is as good - or better than - Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, because of the similar ways they can score the basketball, and the fact they are both the face of a franchise that has made it all the way to the finals. It is extremely difficult to split the two, and both are elite talents in the league today.
But now a former Celtics great in Paul Pierce has come out and said that Booker needs to be talked about regularly in the MVP conversation.
Pierce was speaking with his former teammate Kevin Garnett recently on the ShowTime show #KGCertified, and when Booker's name was brought up by Garnett as a player who should be getting his flowers, he had the following to add to the conversation;
"It's time to start getting him in the MVP talks, he's up there. I mean they've been rolling. But I said before the season, I think Phoenix is coming out the West. If they get healthy, the way they've been playing... Booker in and out, that's the sign of a good team when you missing some of your stars and you still finding ways to win."- Paul Pierce
Pierce is clearly a fan of Booker and all that he can do, and was even complimentary of the job he has done of becoming the Suns' de-facto point guard this season. Garnett was more reluctant to call the Booker as a floor general move a success, but that was mainly because he believes, as many do, that Booker the facilitator takes away some from his fantastic offensive game.
Garnett would also go on to mention the fact Booker has missed some time already as a result of several injuries, most notably ankle sprains suffered at various points this season. He did not see this as a reason to take Booker out of the MVP conversation, but that decision may be made for him if he continues to miss games here and there.
Booker has appeared in only 13 games so far this season, meaning he has missed nine. The new rules put in place by the NBA this season dictate that a player has to appear in at least 65 contests to be considered for the league's end of season awards. At the rate he is going, Booker is not going to qualify for the MVP award, or anything else he may be in line to go for.
Teammate Bradley Beal has already fallen foul of this, but the "Booker for MVP" campaign would surely pick up some steam if he could only get a successful run of games in the starting lineup. What doesn't help his chances however, is being the only member of the franchise's "Big 3" available to play on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings, and losing that game to drop to 12-10.
Prior to that, a controversial loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the in-season tournament, alongside Durant, put another dent in what is still only a slowly growing MVP case. Both Pierce and Garnett are right to put Booker in the conversation - he has somehow only gotten better since last season's postseason explosion - but until he plays more consistenty, this case will remain nothing but talk.