• Dominic Roney

Hot Take Marathon: Devin Booker Will Not Be “The Man” in Phoenix


The Durango Herald

*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*

Devin Booker was spectacular last season, especially after the trade that sent Eric Bledsoe, his explosive backcourt teammate, to the Milwaukee Bucks. That left Phoenix as Booker’s team to lead. This offseason he inked a five-year, $158 million-dollar deal. Now’s the time for him to show if he can live up to that paycheck.

Devin Booker averaged 24.9 points per game in the 2017-2018 season. He averaged 22.1 points a game in the 2016-17 season. This proves that Booker’s ability to score is a consistent and dependable part of his game for the remainder of his career. However, the question was never if he could score. The question is can he lead a team?

Booker has been a high-volume scorer for multiple years, but he has yet to show any aggression or leadership qualities. His scoring does not produce wins for his team, and his stats are largely useless beyond his own stat sheet, as the Phoenix Suns have been in the lottery since before he came into the league.

Looking towards the future, it’s quite clear Booker is the best player on the Suns. He’s also young enough that he could go down as the greatest legend for the franchise since Steve Nash. In a year, Booker could be putting up MVP numbers and bringing the Suns into the playoffs, even with the star power in the West. But he won’t.

Most fans might think it’ll be easy for Booker to become the leader Phoenix needs, but it’s important to consider he may not play at his best this way. Booker has not shown that he can lead a team in the way Russell Westbrook can, even though I’m confident Booker will become just as talented in the future. As of right now, he lacks the personality to lead a team. This isn’t to say that he can’t or won’t adapt to become that guy.

This is similar to the situation Kyrie Irving was in this past season. Irving wanted to prove he could be the leader of a team, so he requested a trade to leave LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Booker has chosen to stay with the Suns for the same reasons, but I can’t help but cast doubt on his ability to be assertive and take on the franchise tag for the Suns. I believe Booker is best suited in the role Kyrie Irving had within LeBron, playing as the second option on a championship team. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see Devin Booker as a guy who can grow into much more than that.

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