As a Phoenix Suns fan, I can only hope that the franchises’ first championship comes during the Devin Booker era. Not only is he the best player to suit up in Phoenix in over a decade now, but I firmly believe that he is highly underrated and possesses winning qualities. I feel that he could bring a championship to Phoenix if he had the proper supporting cast, which is why I will be identifying who the perfect cast for Booker would be.
The Suns would most likely have to ship off their entire roster to acquire the perfect cast for Booker to win a ring now, which is why I am only looking to identify the ideal starting five without diving into the acquisition details. It’s also important to note that only two of the four other players surrounding him will be an all-star since it’s unrealistic that the Suns would ever acquire more than three total all-stars including Booker.
In order to determine what Booker needs around him, you must evaluate what he is and is not. At the age of 23, he has shaken off some of the stigma surrounding him in his earlier days and has proven that he is able to not only score at high volumes, but also efficiently. This past season, he shot a career-high 48.7 percent from the field, which is a value I will absolutely take from a shooting guard that attempts many 3-pointers.
Despite being tabbed as a gunner and high volume shooter, Booker has actually averaged at least 6.6 assists per game each of the past two seasons, proving to be an effective distributor from the shooting guard position as well. He has proven that he is a willing and able passer, and can even handle the ball and run the offense if absolutely necessary. However, he is ideally utilized as a scorer off the ball.
As far as what he lacks, many people would point to defense first. I would partially agree, meaning that despite disagreeing with much of the criticism he receives, I can also acknowledge that he is far from elite. I’d say he’s just about average defensively, he’s a solid rebounder at best at 4.2 per game, and he’s about average size for a shooting guard at 6’5”.
The perfect point guard to complement Booker in today’s NBA will be a dual-threat guard that can score and create for others. According to ESPN.com, Luka Doncic is considered a shooting guard, but for our purposes, he will be the point guard to play alongside Booker. Standing at 6’7”, Luka provides a great scoring option at 28.7, along with the 8.7 assists he provides. Luka can create his own shot off the dribble but is also extremely crafty to the basket and will look to kick to open shooters (Booker). He also is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game, which will take a little pressure off Booker and allow him to run the fast break, with Doncic initiating straight off the rebound. With Luka Doncic being the point guard paired with Booker, we have one more position that may be filled with an all-star. Also, remember that I’m not diving into details on how these players would be acquired. I know the Mavericks would be foolish to ship Doncic to Phoenix.
The ideal small forward to plug into this team is going to be an efficient 3-point shooter, a solid defender, and a reliable scoring option for this team. In my opinion, the best fit is Marcus Morris Sr. This past season he shot 41 percent from 3-point range and averaged over 17 points per game. On the defensive end, he averaged 0.8 steals along with 0.5 blocks per game. At 6’9” he provides great size that allows him to guard bigger forwards when need be, even at the power forward position if necessary.
The power forward for this team needs to be athletic, a strong interior finisher, comfortable running a pick and roll, and comfortable running the fast break with Booker. To fill this position, the Suns will use their third all-star slot on Bam Adebayo. Bam isn’t much of a perimeter shooting threat, but he did manage to average 16.2 points per game on a highly efficient 56.7 shooting percentage. Like I mentioned, Luka or Booker paired with Bam on a pick and roll is an extremely lethal combo. He’s also athletic enough to beat defenders down the court for easy baskets in transition. He brings much-needed defense to this team as well, averaging 1.2 steals and blocks per game.
To round out this lineup, the starting center can’t be an all-star, but by my evaluation must have 3-point shooting ability, high mobility, and rim-protecting ability. The best option to fill this slot is Serge Ibaka. He is one of the league-leading centers at 39.8%, he is 7’0” tall, has been notorious for most of his career as a shot-blocker, and is capable of finishing at the rim on a pick and roll or from the perimeter on a pick and pop. Plus, he is a former champion with the Toronto Raptors, so he will bring some leadership qualities to the team.
In general, this isn’t the best team ever assembled, or even a team that would be a lock to win the championship. This is just a team that in my opinion has all of the necessary championship ingredients and isn’t unrealistically overpowered with superstars that would never be able to fit on a team together. I’d love to hear who some other candidates could be for this team, and please let me know where you think I am wrong.