When the Phoenix Suns took a seven-foot center out of the University of Arizona with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, they paired him up with a young third-year guard on a team struggling to find talent.
Throughout the past few years, Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker continue to grow as a duo and have emerged as a top pairing in the NBA, especially as of late. As the NBA season progresses and the Suns continue to shine, both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are heating up.
Here’s how they look against some other stars in similar positions
The Suns elite paring have put up impressive numbers this year that puts them near the top of many categories. Devin Booker has been on quite a hot streak in his last five games averaging 36.6 PPG. Booker has been capable of taking over games for the Suns when needed too, a quality that a star player needs to have.
Last Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls, Booker put up an impressive performance in a 132-113 Suns win. Booker was locked in going 20/25 (80%) from the field, his highest shooting percentage this season. He torched the Bulls for 51 points in only three-quarters of play.
His scoring has turned up an extra notch in the last month with the absence of Chris Paul and Cam Johnson. In fact, nobody in the NBA has scored more point than Booker since November 15th with 325 points.
His combination of sharp shooting has him leading all shooting guards in the NBA in PER (player efficacy rating) which “…sums up all a player's positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player's performance.”, according to ESPN’s basketball statistics columnist John Hollinger.
As for Ayton, the big man has been an effective force down low for the Suns, anchoring the paint and playing effectively. Deandre Ayton ranks in the top five among centers in points (PTS), field-goal percentage (FG%), and double-doubles (DD2).
His efficiency in the center position stacks up well against other centers around the league as well. Ayton ranks 4th in player efficiency for the center position at 22.29 PER.
The Suns duo has been playing at a high level and have been major factors in the Suns success this year. But other duos in the league have had similar numbers and some edge over Booker and Ayton so far.
The Boston Celtics dynamic combination of guard and forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been impressive this year leading NBA duos with 1,300 points between the two as of this week. This deadly one-two punch gives the Celtics many options on a nightly basis for a primary scorer.
The Suns are set to play the Celtics on Dec. 17 and Feb. 3. A matchup between the two pairs will be exciting basketball and a potential at a Finals preview should both teams advance through the playoffs.
Another duo playing well this season for the Denver Nuggets has been G Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Jokic has been leading centers in nearly all statistical categories and has proven why he has back-to-back MVP awards under his belt.
The Mile High tag-team is not complete without Jamal Murray who is averaging 23.3 points in his last five games but hasn’t been fully healthy.
A fully healthy Murray paired with arguably the best player in the NBA will be a tough mountain for any team to climb out in Denver. The Suns play the Nuggets in the big Christmas Day matchup on Dec. 25 with other meetings on Mar. 31 and Apr. 6.
The Suns will face the Nuggets and their healthy playmakers three additional times this year and potentially in the playoffs.
These two pairings in the NBA are examples of the kind of talent that is present on many teams around the league.
A return of Paul/Johnson will also be just one of the few key additions. Booker and Ayton have played well all year, but continuing to play well will bode strongly for the Phoenix as they fight off the rest of the Western Conference and battle the East’s best to offer.