PHOENIX – Less than 24 hours after Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker put up an All-Star-worthy performance against Portland Monday night, the 24-year-old was once again snubbed out of the NBA’s marquee midseason game.
Following the 132-100 blowout victory for the Suns that saw Booker score 34 points, coach Monty Williams was confident his guard would be selected for the game.
“There is no doubt about it,” Williams said. “No one can debate that Book’s not an All-Star … From my perspective, I don’t think you’ll find any coach in the league that would debate that he’s an All-Star.”
Except many did. NBA coaches were the ones who selected others over Booker. They did select his teammate Chris Paul
Following the announcement of the reserves, LeBron James tweeted, “Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that.”
Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 24, 2021
It was the second year in a row that Booker was not named an All-Star. He replaced injured Damian Lillard of Portland last year and could be up for a replacement spot again.
Captains and starters for the game were announced Thursday night. Captains James and Kevin Durant will be drafting the teams.
On Monday, Booker’s teammates praised his level of play and shared their expectations of an All-Star selection for him.
“D-Book is showing stuff beyond All-Star. He’s been an All-Star, we’ve been known D-Book is a bucket,” Deandre Ayton said. “But him scoring the way he’s scoring the way he’s carrying us the way he’s leading us through his style of play it’s insane.”
Mikal Bridges added, “you see what he does game in and game out, leads us to wins. He deserves it man.”
Paul a 16-year veteran and former All-Star game MVP, is set to make his second straight and 11th career All-Star appearance.
“Being able to grace the court with him, it’s unbelievable. But it’s no mistake,” Booker said of Paul. “Now being around it and seeing the work ethic, seeing the attention to detail, seeing the selflessness of wanting to get your teammates involved and being better.”
In 30 games this season, Paul leads the Phoenix Suns in assists per game with 8.5 while his counterpart Booker is second with 4.3 assists per game. In points per game the positions flip. Booker leads the team averaging 24.7 points per game, the 16th most in the league, while Paul is second with 16.6 points per game.
Other notable statistics for the new All-Star are Paul’s 1.2 steals per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and a 3.7 assist-to-turnover ratio all three of which lead the team for guards.
Paul and Booker together have led the Suns to a 20-10 record so far this season, placing them in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Since January 28, the Suns have won 12 out of their last 14 games.
“You give Chris the ball or Book the ball in the open floor they can generate it for themselves and for other people,” Williams said. “Chris and Book generate a ton of offense for themselves and for the rest of the team.”
Before the Portland win, the Suns broke a franchise record for number of threes in a game with 24 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Booker and Paul combined to contribute nine of those 24 threes.
In the same game, Paul notched six assists to pass Oscar Robertson for the sixth-most assists in NBA history.
“He’s competitive, he wants to win and it’s just an amazing accomplishment for one of the big guys in our league, one of the faces in our league, and the guy who does so much for so many people,” Williams said of Paul passing Robertson. “I’m just glad that he’s able to accomplish something like this.”
In addition to playing in the All-Star game, Paul has had a large role in organizing the game as the president of the National Basketball Players Association.
““I talked to (LeBron) maybe a week or two ago, talked to Steph, a few guys. Our executive committee, we get on calls and try to figure it out. There’s different situations,” Paul said of organizing the All-Star game.
Williams added of Paul’s involvement, “I couldn’t imagine trying to juggle all that and still do it all at such a high level and have the respect of every environment that he’s working in. It’s amazing.”
Paul is the 25th player in Suns history to be named an All-Star and the 64th all-time.
The 70th NBA All-Star Game will take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on March 7.. This will be the first year the skills competition, three-point contest, dunk contest and game will take place on the same night. TNT will televise the NBA All-Star Game for a 19th consecutive year.