For the eighth season in a row, the Phoenix Suns did not make the playoffs. The Suns posted at 21-61 record in the team’s 50th season, the worst record since the inaugural season in 1968-69 when the team went 16-66.
With the NBA Playoffs set to tip-off on Saturday, there is one player that is fed up with not being a part of it. That player is Devin Booker.
“I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious. This is probably the last year I’m ever not making the playoffs. That’s putting pressure on myself I need. I’m watching these games right now with teams trying to clinch and the playoff atmosphere of those games and those are the games I want to be in.” - Devin Booker.
The Suns went 23-59 and 24-58 in Booker’s first two seasons as a pro. Booker feels that now is the time to change the losing culture into the winning ways of franchise past.
“I always think about turning the franchise around, to get it back how it used to be. I watch the highlights of (Charles) Barkley and (Steve) Nash and how alive the arena was. One of my goals is to get it back that way.” Booker told reporters during his exit interview.
During the final months of the season, injuries took its toll on the Suns. Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Elfrid Payton, Allan Williams and Tyson Chandler all were absent in Phoenixes’ 124-97 victory against the Dallas Mavericks in the season finale. Phoenix lost a franchise-record 15 straight in one stretch.
Phoenix General Manager Ryan McDonough also feels like it is time for a change. Three years of acquiring and establishing young talent has met its end.
"If you go beyond that, I think the losing starts to set in and the guys start to become accustomed to that and the bar is lower," McDonough said. "Next year we're going to try to raise the bar. We're going to try to raise our standards. We won't be as young. We won't have nearly as many young players as we had last year."
Next Step: Signing Booker long term
There has been rising speculation that the star guard is tired of the Suns’ losing ways and might not sign a contract extension. During his exit interview, Booker put those talks to rest.
“Don’t believe in nonsense,” he said. “With TV, they need something to talk about. I’ve always mentioned since my first day here that I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with the fan base and the dedication they showed to the team.”
Booker averaged career highs in points (24.9), assists (4.7) and rebounds (4.5) this season while becoming the third player 21 or younger to average at least 24 points, four assists and four rebounds over an entire season.
Booker’s career highlights include 2015-16 All-Rookie honors, a 70-point game against the Boston Celtics, a participant in the 2016 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, winner of the 2018 NBA Three-Point Contest and is the sixth player in history to surpass 1,000 career points as a teenager.