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Booker Remains “Super Snub” for All-Star Game

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Every year, there is always a snub or two in both conferences when it comes to the NBA all-star selections. That’s totally understandable given the nature of things. There are just twelve spots in each conference to recognize excellence. The thirteenth or fourteenth guy in either conference is still going to be incredibly good. And he is going to be usually pretty close in his credentials to the eleventh or twelfth guy, eliciting all kinds of arguments in favor of him making the all-star roster. This is usually called an all-star snub. But for Devin Booker, the term snub doesn’t do this justice. Booker is a super snub.

The Case for Devin Booker

Devin Booker is the eighth-highest scorer in the league averaging 26.9 points per game on 50.7% shooting from the field and 36.6% from three. He is also averaging 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Numbers wise, there is really no excuse to leave him out of the Western All-Star team. Twitter has been flooded with support for his candidacy.

 

 

Just look at the names in the tweet above and you will see that Booker not only deserved an All-Star berth in 2020, he may actually be cooking up something historic. Even other stars in the association had a hard time digesting this:

 

https://twitter.com/bosnianbeast27/status/1223065389711511552?s=20

Wins and Losses

The only argument against Devin Booker is that his team didn’t win enough. The Suns are 21-31– not good. They have had an up-and-down season, but are still just five games behind the eighth seed. The Suns have also won more games than last year already. Booker is the clear leader of this team that’s moving in the right direction. This is not the Hawks or the Warriors who are pretty comfortable with where they are in their franchise journey. They are focused and bullish about their future and don’t care about their record this year.

Phoenix wants to win now and make it to the playoffs this year. There is a level of pressure that comes with it, and Booker has been carrying all of that load with aplomb. I understand winning is more important than anything else, but we also need to look at it in context. Basketball is still a team sport and you can’t punish Booker for all of the franchise’s failures. There is a limit and threshold for ignoring raw numbers in favor of wins and losses and Devin Booker’s numbers are way beyond that. Plus, the entire win-loss argument falls in its face when you look at the All-Star rosters and see Brandon Ingram also at 21-31 and Trae Young at 14-39 representing their conferences.

Difficult Choices

I am not saying Trae’s selection was right or wrong, but it would be wrong according to the folks saying win-loss record trumps everything else. Let’s go with that for argument sake. The excuse for that choice then is, the starters are voted in by the fans and hence you can’t blame the league or the coaches for Trae’s selection. I don’t buy that argument either. It’a an All-Star team. You can’t have a completely orthogonal and different criteria for the top five and the next seven selections. Figure out a way to make the criteria at least somewhat homogeneous. If you are going to let the fans pick the starters and if they disproportionately care about numbers or star power or celebrity or whatever, then let’s try and factor that in while selecting the reserves too.

Of course, even if we accept that the starters are all fans’ “fault”, the selection of Brandon Ingram as a reserve completely rips that excuse apart! The coaches put him in even though his record and his numbers have been worse than Booker’s most of the season. Just to be clear, I actually agree with Ingram’s selection and I love the feel-good angle of his journey. His strong comeback from a serious health-scare is an awesome story for the league. But my point is, Booker needs to be part of the team too.

I understand this is a tough job for the coaches. The selection process is even more complicated by positional requirements. The positional lines in basketball are a lot more blurred than football for instance. This makes the selections and arguments around it a lot more fluid. We take liberties to say leave out a center in favor of a guard etc. Coaches have to juggle all these requirements. With all that said, coaches blew this one and could have done way better.

All-Star Debates

Much like Booker in the West, Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards deserved to make it in the East as well. Give me Beal over Kyle Lowry!  I always criticize experts who stick up for All-Star snubs without telling us who they should replace on the roster. For players and the media, it’s easy to say put somebody in and get on that star’s good side. But there are only twelve spots and you have to take a stand on who to leave out in that case. Like Bobby Marks below for example:

Not only does Booker deserve to be there ahead of Russ, there is an argument to be made for Book against several Western All-Stars:

The list above talks about two others, but really you can add Donovan Mitchell and Chris Paul to this too. I would have picked Booker over any of them. The coaches picked fourteen reserves across two conferences. As per my ranking, Devin Booker is better than nine of them. Ben Simmons from the East and Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic, and Rudy Gobert from the West are the only names I would have called before Booker’s. He didn’t just deserve to barely make this roster. He deserved to be no lower than the fourth reserve spot in the West. Thats what makes him a super-snub! Since the reserves were announced, Devin Booker has remained on his usual tear (excluding his 11-point dud in Brooklyn), even propelling the Suns to a blowout win over the Houston Rockets last night.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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