Last week, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker went on a media tour rant about why he deserves to be considered in the MVP conversation. Based on his tweets and comments the past few days, the All-Star wants to be considered one of the best players in the league.
In fairness to Booker, he is playing like one of the best players in the league. Not only do the Suns have the best record in the NBA, but Booker is also averaging a remarkable and career-high 26.3 points, 5.0 assists, and 5.1 assists per game. He helped the Suns stay afloat while their leader Chris Paul was recovering from a right thumb injury. Without Paul in the lineup, Booker put up 29.5 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds for 13 games.
So yes, Booker deserves to be in the MVP conversation. The Suns have the best record in the league by a mile, but Booker has also played excellent all-around basketball all year. The disrespect from the national media, specifically ESPN, continues to look silly each day. And while Booker continues to prove his doubters wrong in the regular season, there’s a catch.
The catch is that Booker needs to do this in the playoffs to get the flowers he wants to receive.
Booker must prove he’s a winner first
No disrespect to Mr. Booker whatsoever, but at the end of the day, the praise will only come if he has a successful playoff run. The Suns made it to the Finals last season, and whether or not people want to call it a fluke is up to them but blowing a 2-0 lead to the Milwaukee Bucks harms their reputation.
Yes, Booker proved that he could show up when it matters most, but if he wants to be considered in the tier of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, then maybe it’s time for him to put his head down once again and just let his work do the talking. Just ask the names above, and they’ll tell you firsthand that MVP performances in the regular season don’t mean anything if it doesn’t translate to playoff success.
There’s an incredible chance that the narrative around Booker will change once he wins a championship. Yes, these are high expectations, but with great power comes great responsibility. Booker has proven that he deserves to be an MVP candidate but is he someone people will take over, say, Steph Curry? Or even Luka Doncic?
Where is the love?
Aside from not being in the MVP conversation, maybe Suns fans and even Booker himself are uptight about him not getting the respect he deserves because he’s not viewed the way young studs as Doncic, Jayson Tatum, and Ja Morant are.
Booker dominates the game the same way, but it doesn’t come in the form of good ol’ 360 dunks or well-oiled all-around performance like Doncic does every game. It also doesn’t help that Booker has gone out of his way to tell the world that he’s one of the best, as it could rub people the wrong way.
But at the end of the day, people set expectations for the shooting guard, and he has no choice but to meet them. Otherwise, it’ll continue to be the way it is now. Booker will only get the praise he wants if he continues to shock the world not just in the regular season but also in the playoffs and in the years to come.
Because right now, Booker is only a few years removed from being a very good player on a very bad team. He deserves to be in the MVP conversation but not considered as one of the top five players in the league just yet.