The Phoenix Suns continue to do their best to navigate what has been a trying regular season, but there is no doubt that now they are close to fully healthy, they are capable of going on a run. This will be powered by Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, all of which are almost healthy at the same time, with Durant the single player missing currently.
There is little doubt that Durant is also going to be one of the starters for the Western Conference for the All-Star game this season as well. With the results for the first round of fan voting now in, Durant trails only LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers in the frontcourt category.
On the other end of the scale, Beal will not be appearing at the midseason exhibition for what would be the fourth time in his career. He simply hasn't played enough games, and hasn't impacted the game on a national level in the way even ninth placed player in the backcourt category (Klay Thompson) has managed to do.
You would think that Booker - despite some early injury issues - would be a lock for the game, but the fact he doesn't even make the top 10 in his category is a joke.
Instead, Austin Reaves of the Lakers makes the cut as the 10th player voted by the fans to make the guards category. The same Reaves who has been moved to the bench by Lakers' head coach Darvin Ham, and has only started 10 games so far this season? How could this have happened to Booker?
There is no doubt that Reaves has what could probably be described as an outsized fandom in comparison to his skills. Playing in Los Angeles doesn't hurt his cause either. That is not meant as disrepect to Reaves, who deserved to be paid last offseason and is likely the Lakers' third best player behind James and Anthony Davis.
But of the many issues with him making it onto this list over Booker - to say nothing else of the fact nine other players did as well - perhaps the most glaring is the fact that Booker is just a straight up better player. In no world would he ever be moved to the bench, whether he was suiting up for the Suns or the Lakers.
For those who might point to the fact Booker missed time at the start of the season because of a couple of different issues, please consider the following - he was only played 10 fewer games than Reaves all season. All 25 of Booker's have of course been starts - in other words - he has started and played as many games as Reaves has off the bench.
To come at this from the angle of stats there is no comparison, with Booker being the 11th highest scorer in the league this season at 26.7 points per game. This dwarfs Reaves' 15.3 by some distance. Booker has also been asked to be a point guard for the first time in his career this season, and has answered by posting 7.8 assists per game, by far a career high.
It is fair to say that Reaves is asked to be a creator sometimes for the Lakers - especially on bench heavy units he finds himself a part of - but in no world is he the creator and ball-handler Booker has managed to make himself in only a few short months. His five assists a night a nice number for the Lakers, but it isn't moving the needle.
Alongside Durant, Booker is the offensive hub for his Suns team. The same cannot be said of Reaves, and he isn't even as good a spot-up shooter from deep as Booker either. The 35.6 percent he is shooting on a career high 4.7 attempts per night is fine for Reaves. But Booker is knocking down 38.8 percent of his, while attempting 5.4 shots from deep per game, as well as doing everything else.
Putting all of this aside, and Booker has to be the more popular and well-known player of the two as well. The only claim to fame Reaves has off the court is that he was rumored to have gone on a date with Taylor Swift. Booker on the other hand was with a Kardashian, and has his own signature shoe. Hard to see Reaves getting one of those anytime soon.
So by every conceivable metric, Booker should be in Reaves' spot, and for this not to be the case is ridiculous. Booker also has a case to be in there over Thompson and Ja Morant - but if nothing else - both of those players are or have been elite, and they are well-known to more casual fans too. The only hope is that Booker uses this as motivation for the rest of the season.