In a league with more all-star caliber players than spots, there are bound to be a handful of snubs when the NBA selects each conference’s 12 all-stars. This year was no different, as the likes of Chris Paul, Lou Williams, Nikola Jokic, Andre Drummond and Paul George will all be watching the 2018 NBA All-star festivities in Los Angeles from their living rooms. But while a case can be made for each of those four, the biggest snub of all was Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who has quietly amassed numbers that unequivocally should have earned him a spot.
Devin Booker is the Biggest NBA All-Star Snub
Compared to many other stars across the league, Booker does not receive nearly the same amount of media exposure due to him playing on a bad team and in a small market. But that should not take anything away from his individual accomplishments, and rather should speak to the contrary.
Since Phoenix traded away Eric Bledsoe last November, Booker has been tasked with not only being the Suns go-to scorer, but also taking on a more unfamiliar role as a facilitator. He has excelled in both departments. As the Suns only elite offensive player, opposing teams know when they come into Phoenix that if they neutralize Booker, the Suns will not have a chance. Booker knows that, too. The pressure does not phase him.
On the season, Booker is averaging 24.8 points per game – more than 15 players who were selected as 2018 all-stars – to go along with 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds. In fact, every one of the top 16 players at the time of writing on the NBA’s points-per-game list were named all-stars except for Booker, who sits at number 10.
Moreover, Booker is not just scoring the basketball, he is doing so efficiently for his position. Booker is shooting 44% from the field this season, on par with the likes of Russell Westbrook (44%), Damian Lillard (44%) and James Harden (45%). Plus, he is playing less minutes per game (34.2) than all of the above. The numbers do not lie – Booker has risen into the NBA’s elite tier of guards – which is what makes his omission the most glaring of the lot.
Who Would Booker Replace?
It is not hard to stake a claim that a player was snubbed, but the more difficult part is to answer the question that always follows: if Booker is in, who does he replace? Often times this question is difficult to answer, but this year there is an obvious choice in Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson. That is not to say Thompson is not an all-star caliber player. His rock solid two-way game is paralleled by few in the association. Thompson’s season to date has not been all-star level when stacked up against Booker’s, though, especially considering that the Warriors are already sending three others to Los Angeles.
Booker is averaging more points, rebounds, and assists than Thompson. He also has a higher player efficiency rating (PER), a metric designed to measure overall player value. Thompson’s one major claim is that he is the NBA’s three-point percentage leader at an impressive 45% clip, but that is largely a by-product of the quality of his looks. Booker does not reap the rewards of having two top five players in the NBA on his team attracting all the attention, and thus he is not left wide open in the corner with no defenders in his area code.
Instead, Booker is forced to create the bulk of his looks himself, raising the level of shot difficulty. All of the attention that Thompson has the fortune of drawing away from himself, Booker has drawn towards him. And yet, Booker continues to show great resolve in fighting through suffocating defenders and double teams en route to posting all-star worthy numbers.
He may have been snubbed this time around, but make no mistake about it: Booker is having an all-star caliber season. And at the ripe young age of just 21, you can expect more of the same for years to come. It will not be long until Booker officially makes it into that all-star class – unofficially, he is already there.
LOS ANGELES, USA – NOVEMBER 06 : Devin Booker of Phoenix Suns gestures during a NBA game between Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on November 06, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)