The Devin Booker narrative continues to change for the better.
After leading Phoenix Suns to an 8-0 bubble run, Booker has gone from being just an elite scorer to a winner who can lead a franchise to a playoff spot in the near future.
HoopsHype “polled 15 NBA talent evaluators, including four general managers, six executives and five scouts, to learn which players under 25 they’d build around and why.”
Where’s Booker on this list?
He’s third behind first-team All-NBA selection and first-time All-Star Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and third-team All-NBA selection and fellow first-time All-Star Jayson Tatum.
Rookie of the Year Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies), first-team All-Stars Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) and Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets), All-Star Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Most Improved Player winner Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) round out the list in that order.
Again, this is a list of players under the age of 25. Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo turned 25 Dec. 6 of last year.
Booker averaged 30.5 points and six assists in the NBA restart seeding games to earn first-team All-Seeding honors. He finished second behind Damian Lillard for All-Seeding MVP.
The NBA’s ninth-leading scorer for the entire regular season at 26.6 points a game, Booker shot 48.9% from the field, 91.9% from the line, but HoopsHype pointed to another stat that showed how durable he was this season.
Having battled injuries in his NBA career, Booker played the second-most minutes in the NBA regular season (2,512) with C.J. McCollum playing the most (2,557).
Both played 70 games.
Booker also made the third-most free throws at 468. Only James Harden (692) and Trae Young (481) made more.
As offensively gifted as Booker is, the “talent evaluators” HoopsHype polled said he can become one of the league’s best players if he improves defensively.
“He’s more of a pure scorer and shooter, but he doesn’t defend much,” one executive noted to HoopsHype.
Booker made noticeable improvement defensively in Monty Williams’ first season as head coach in Phoenix.
He now competes on that end, but lacks discipline, which leads to foul trouble.
Booker’s certainly not in the MVP conversation.
He only received three votes for All-NBA third team.
Booker made the NBA All-Star game in Chicago as an injury replacement for Lillard, but he’s a talent the Suns are certainly trying to build their team around.
That, too, is a work in progress.
Phoenix has some pieces, but could use a more athletic four, a backup point guard who could start for other teams and another knockdown shooter.
Booker will turn 24 on Oct. 30.
The type of team Phoenix has when he reaches 25 will play a major role in how Booker is viewed by scouts, executives, general managers and many, many others.
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