Devin Booker has already hit many career milestones and accomplishments throughout his short NBA career, but could MVP be next for his taking? Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer labeled the young Sun a sleeper to finish atop the 2018-19 MVP race.
O’Connor began his piece touching on the improvements Booker has shown throughout his first three seasons. He has consistently improved in each of the three key statistics (points, rebounds and assists) in every year of his career.
If 2017-18 wasn’t considered Booker’s breakout season, O’Connor believes that this year could be.
“Last season, Booker became only the 11th player to average over 24 points before turning 22 years old,” O’Connor said. “LeBron James and Kevin Durant did it twice, and the five retired players who did it all made the Hall of Fame. It’s a good sign for Booker.”
Not only does O’Connor see more improvements in Booker’s future, but he believes that Booker now has the surrounding pieces to help him reach the next level of his career.
“The Suns loaded up their roster with versatile wings who can shoot and switch screens and drafted rookie center Deandre Ayton, who can space the floor to the 3-point line,” O’Connor said.
While Booker was looked at as solely a pure shooter coming out of Kentucky, O’Connor thinks his “drastically improved” ball handling could be the key to his success.
“He’s crafty once he gets in the lane, utilizing floaters and off-balance layups,” O’Connor said. “If a shot isn’t available, he’s a willing, capable passer.”
This combo-guard mentality is helping draw the comparison from Booker to the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden.
“The mold for Booker should be James Harden,” O’Connor said. “If the Suns space the floor and Booker runs a heavy dose of pick-and-roll, then he’ll naturally end up isolating against slower players on a switch, much like Harden does. Then it’s on Booker to finish the job.”
Booker looks poised to shine yet again for Suns in 2018 as he’s spent the summer working out with Team USA as well as developing his NBA body.
The 21-year-old put on quite a performance to start the Suns season. Booker caught fire during clutch time, scoring 19 points in just the fourth quarter as he was greeted by chants of “MVP” each time he stepped to the free throw line.
He finished the first game of the year with 35 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
O’Connor took to Twitter following the game.
“Devin Booker has improved drastically in each season of his career,” O’Connor said. “If tonight is any indication, another leap is coming. The Suns should soon be a very competitive team for a very long time now that Booker is paired with Deandre Ayton. The Booker-Ayton duo can be special.”
While it’s only the first game of the season, the excitement around the Booker and the Suns continues to grow. If Booker can continue producing performances like opening night, not only can he earn All-Star recognition, but MVP might not be far away.