The Phoenix Suns are struggling through yet another difficult season in which they will miss the playoffs, and frustration seemed to boil over for first-year head coach Monty Williams following the team’s latest loss.
After the Suns fell 121-105 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Williams criticized the officiating crew for the lack of calls his players have been receiving. He specifically mentioned Devin Booker, who Williams says has “hit the floor over and over and over again” this season without hearing a whistle.
Unprompted, Monty Williams turned tonight's postgame comments to officiating: "I’m more concerned with the lack of foul calling for our guys. I’m just, like, over it. I’ve watched Book hit the floor over and over and over again. He doesn’t just complain for nothing." #Suns
More Monty: "That’s two games in a row (against Portland) a guy took two hands and pushed our guys at the rim. That’s not a basketball play, you know? That can be frustrating when you’re playing as hard as we play, and you don’t get that call." #Suns
Booker scored 29 points on Tuesday, but he was just 9-of-25 from the field. He got to the free throw line 10 times. That’s a healthy number of attempts, and Booker actually ranks ninth in the NBA this season with 7.1 free throw attempts per game. Williams clearly feels that number should be higher.
Williams was in a better mood following Phoenix’s last game against the Blazers, but the circumstances were a lot different then. The Suns have just 29 wins this year following Tuesday’s loss, so you can understand why the coach is starting to lose his cool.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker was clearly one of the biggest All-Star snubs and he’s not hiding his displeasure about it.
Despite averaging 27.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, Booker was left out of the squad for next month’s game in Chicago. Speaking to the media after learning the news, Booker said politics and drama had changed the game and made it so the best players are no longer named All-Stars.
"The NBA is different than the game that I fell in love with at the beginning of all the best players in the All-Star Game growing up. And now it's an entertainment, drama, political-filled league. But we're a part of it now. It pays well so I guess we should be quiet about it."
Booker is certainly right to be angry, and it’s been a while since an All-Star snub raised this level of frustration in the sport. Whatever the reason is, Booker should be in Chicago in mid-February. It’s bizarre that he isn’t, but it could be used as motivation going forward.
It’s very easy to complain about a snub, but what’s more difficult — and necessary — is sharing who the snub should have replaced. Booker should have been selected ahead of Chris Paul and/or Russell Westbrook. He’s having a better season than either of them but being penalized because he was drafted by a team that has proven incapable of building a winning roster.
The full list of reserves includes:
West: Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul
East: Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis
Bill Simmons took some heat last week for his comments about Devin Booker not playing for Team USA in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, and the media personality is defending himself over it.
On September 3, the United States beat Turkey in overtime for their second win in Group E play (they went 3-0 in the group). As the game went to overtime, Simmons tweeted about how he felt Booker was missing out by not being part of the team.
I hope Devin Booker is watching this OT game before his intense workout with some 5’9 trainer who just keeps feeding him uncontested threes. Cuz that’s a better way to prepare for the season.
Booker’s point was that by not participating, he was able to avoid an injury. Some in the basketball community gave Booker “internet points” for serving Simmons an “L” in their matter, but Simmons doesn’t understand the response.
Simmons addressed the Booker matter during an appearance on Zach Lowe’s podcast, “The Lowe Post Show.”
“Here’s why this is completely absurd,” Simmons began. “And I guess this is where we are in 2019 as sports media members and fans. No longer are we allowed to be critical of any NBA player in any way. That’s the new reality of the player empowerment era.
“When I say that I thought Devin Booker should have played Team USA, why am I saying that? Am I saying that to be a d–k? Am I saying that to take a drive-by shot at him? No. I’m saying it because I think he’s really talented. And here’s his career so far: he played at the University of Kentucky for one year and they made the Final Four. That was the most important games he’s ever played in because he goes to Phoenix and he’s on lottery teams for four years. They won 17 games last year. He’s never played in a meaningful professional basketball game in his life. And I find it hard to believe that it wouldn’t make him better to play on Team USA and to have (Gregg) Popovich and Steve Kerr and all these coaches … the highlights of his career have been these meaningless scoring explosions.
“So here’s the thing: I think it would really help him career-wise to be in a situation where he’s in China, in a scary arena, with different rules, with some real adversity. … you can’t tell me it’s not helpful to be in games like that,” Simmons said.
“Me talking about this — I’m not throwing grenades at this dude. I’m disappointed that people don’t care about this more.”
While many folks online find it amusing to pile on someone — like Simmons in this case — we agree with The Ringer founder. Every point he makes is lucid and it’s hard to disagree with his argument. Booker is the same guy who complained about getting double-teamed in a pickup game, so maybe he just doesn’t like being challenged.
Devin Booker is hoping to finally lead the Phoenix Suns to the playoffs in his fifth NBA season next year, but he is apparently quite particular about when he wants to work on going against double teams.
Booker took part in a pickup game recently that was organized by NBA trainer Chris Johnson and included Ben Simmons, Joakim Noah and other players. At one point, Booker made it no secret that he was frustrated two defenders double teamed him in the corner. He said he has to deal with that all season and would rather “work on our game.”
Booker averaged 26.6 points per game last season and has become one of the best scorers in the NBA, but the Suns have not been to the postseason in a decade now. He should be doing everything possible to improve his game, and that includes working on beating double teams.
Since the Suns only have three regular season games left, we figured they would probably just shut him down for the rest of the way rather than have him hurry back. The Athletic’s Shams Charania says that is what they are doing. That makes sense. At 18-61, the Suns are only playing for a draft lottery spot and don’t need to push Booker for no reason.
Booker finishes his fourth NBA season averaging 26.9 points and 6.8 assists on 46.7 percent shooting, all of which are career-high marks.
The 22-year-old guard became the youngest player in NBA history with back-to-back 50-point games. He’s averaging over 26 points per game this season for the 17-59 Suns. The next step is for Phoenix to surround him with some better players.
The Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz got so petty as Devin Booker chased a 60-point game on Monday night.
The Suns were blown out 125-92 in the game and their only bright spot was Booker. The 22-year-old guard was hot and went 19/34 from the field and 16/17 on free throws for 59 points.
Phoenix really wanted him to get to 60 points, so they left him out there in garbage time to add to his point total. They even intentionally fouled in the final 30 seconds to get the ball back so Booker would have a shot at crossing the mark.
How did Utah respond? They intentionally fouled back to prevent Booker from having a shot at 60.
The Jazz really intentionally fouled so Book wouldn’t reach 60.