Opinion: Devin Booker Needs To Be In The NBA MVP Discussion

Written By C.J. Pierre on March 22, 2022

Devin Booker for MVP.

With the end of NBA season drawing closer, this statement needs to be out in the open.

The Phoenix Suns are the best team in the NBA. They are the only team in the league to have clinched a playoff spot. They are 58-14 and are nine games clear of the 2nd best team in the Western Conference.

However, there is little to no talk about the best player on the best team being named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

That ends now.

Booker MVP odds at Arizona sportsbooks

Folks using sports betting sites in Arizona still have a chance to put some money down on Booker winning the MVP award. Right now, most AZ sportsbooks are giving bettors very long odds () on D-Book to win MVP.

Player Odds to WinDraftKings AZFanDuel AZBetMGM ArizonaCaesars Sportsbook AZ
Joel Embiid-160-165-155-150
Nikola Jokić+135+165+155+135
Giannis Antetokounmpo+800+1000+1000+900
Ja Morant+2000+4200+4000+3000
Luka Dončić+3000+4200+4000+4000
DeMar DeRozan+3000+12000+6600+3000
Devin Booker+8000+10000+12500+12500

Let’s be honest. Booker is a long shot at winning the award. However, it is ridiculous that the best player on the best team has such low odds of winning.

So, why is that?

Often the NBA MVP award becomes a “narrative” award. Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily go to the best player that season, but to the player that seemingly deserves it.

  • You could argue it happened twice to Michael Jordan. Jordan won the MVP four times during the 90s Chicago Bulls’ six championship season.
  • Charles Barkley won it for the Phoenix Suns during the 1992-93 season.
  • Karl Malone won the award for the Utah Jazz in 1996-97.

Many believed Jordan was the best player during those seasons, but he didn’t win because the voters felt someone else deserved the honor.

This season appears to be the year of “the Big Man.”

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets are the clear favorites. I’m not here to say neither of them deserves the award or that they aren’t having great seasons. However, are they both having a season that is leaps and bounds better than what Booker is doing?

No way.

A case for D-Book to win the MVP Award

The MVP award in the NBA is considered a prestigious honor. Fans often count them along with championships when coming up with lists of the best players of all time. Long story short, if you want to be considered an all-time great, you need to win the MVP.

At the age of 25, Booker is currently in his seventh year in the NBA. He has a long way to go before he is in the same vein as the players on the 75th Anniversary team. However, that also makes a case for why he has been more “valuable” to his team than any other player.

When Chris Paul suffered a thumb injury, the belief was that Phoenix would struggle. Instead, they have kept up their high level of play, thanks primarily to Booker. They even increased their lead in the standings by a wide margin.

Other teams with MVP candidates, like the Philadelphia 76ers, are trading away key pieces to bring in stars like James Harden. Meanwhile, Phoenix brought in role players to complement the superstar they already have.

Booker’s stats back up an MVP case

This portion of the pitch may be for the advanced class.

You need to dive into Booker’s stats to understand his impact on the Phoenix Suns winning games.

Booker is averaging just under 26 points per game this season (25.9). That ranks him 11th in scoring across the NBA.

But let’s put that into context.

Booker plays fewer than six minutes per game in the fourth quarter this season (5.9). Meaning the Suns’ best player has only been on the floor in the final period half of the time.

Why is that? Typically because his team is comfortably ahead in games most of the time. The Suns have the NBA’s highest point differential, beating teams by an average of  8.4 ppg.

A critical NBA stat in the NBA is called the plus-minus. It measures a player’s impact on the game, represented by the difference between their team’s total scoring versus their opponent’s when the player is in the game. Booker’s plus-minus is at 6.9 ppg. That is higher than Nikola Jokić (5.5) and Joel Embiid (4.7).

All of these statistics indicate that when Booker is on the floor, he is more valuable than any other MVP-caliber player this season.

Put the ‘Phoenix is stacked’ argument to bed

The key argument against Booker’s MVP case — outside of the great seasons the other candidates are having — is that the Suns’ success this year is due to them having the best roster in the league. The claim is Booker doesn’t need to contribute much for the team to win games.

It is true.

Phoenix has an outstanding roster full of complementary pieces. General manager James Jones and head coach Monty Williams have done a great job putting this together. However, it doesn’t work nearly as well without Booker.

Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are now proven starters in the NBA. Also, the team’s bench is full of playmakers and shooters that have played well all season. The biggest negative to Booker’s MVP case happens to be the franchise’s recent essential offseason addition: Chris Paul.

Many experts believe that CP3 is the main reason the Suns made a run to the NBA Finals last season and have taken another step forward this season. It is hard to argue. We all know what a wreck the team was before he got there. He finished fourth in MVP voting last season.

There is no question that without Paul, the Suns are not the best team in the league. However, I can make that same statement about Booker. This season Booker has taken his game to another level. So much so that his team is now the favorite to win the NBA championship.

Booker may not win the MVP this year, but folks need to start talking about him in the same vein as they do players like Embiid and Jokić. Maybe it will take a second straight run to the NBA Finals before D-Book starts to get the recognition he deserves.

Photo by AP / Charlie Neibergall
C.J. Pierre Avatar
Written by
C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

View all posts by C.J. Pierre