A debate is raging amongst NBA writers about which member of the Phoenix Suns’ backcourt should be an All-Star in 2021.
The discussion centers around whether do-it-all veteran Chris Paul or one-man scoring machine Devin Booker should be invited to the exhibition.
Both have excelled in their respective fortes on the hardwood this season, with Booker ranking 16th in the NBA in points per game (24.4) and shooting a career-best 49.2% from the floor in 23 games this season.
Paul, on the other hand, ranks 7th in the association in assists per game (8.2) and 46th in scoring (17.2 PPG), coming off a night in which he became the first player this season to dish out 19 assists in a game.
There seems to be a consensus among NBA writers that the final reserve spot on the Western Conference squad comes down to Booker or Paul, but little else regarding who should earn the final spot on the roster.
The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will be held at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on March 7.
Kevin O’Connor: Chris Paul (West reserve wild card)
O’Connor has Paul as one of his two wild cards on the Western Conference All-Star squad, saying his choice came down to the veteran and his backcourt partner, Devin Booker.
One spot remains for Devin Booker or Chris Paul, the starters in the Suns backcourt. Booker scores more, and maybe this choice will look silly by the end of the season. But Paul has been the best player for Phoenix so far. CP3 sets a more consistent defensive tone, even at age 35, and still runs the show on offense. Paul is averaging 16.7 points and 8.2 assists to only 2.4 turnovers, and possesses the ball for 7.4 minutes per game. The raw numbers probably mean Paul won’t make the game over some of the other candidates, but scoring is bountiful this season.
Jordan Greer: Chris Paul (West reserve wild card)
Greer also has Paul as one of his West wild cards, saying the longtime NBA point guard has distinguished himself from a crowded pool of talented players at that position because of his scoring and playmaking this season.
This final spot could come down to the Suns’ backcourt, as Paul and Devin Booker should both be considered. Paul gets the slight edge because of his ability to elevate the offense with brutally efficient scoring (17.2 points per game on 48.9/36.9/97.2 shooting splits) and playmaking (8.2 assists per game). He has lost some speed and athleticism, but he is still a pest on the defensive end as well.
Greer chose Paul as a wild card over the likes of Booker, DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC), Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson (New Orleans).
Kendrick Perkins: Devin Booker (West reserve)
Dan Devine: Chris Paul (West reserve wild card)
Devine gives Paul the edge over Booker for his final wild card spot, saying the wily veteran has done more to shoulder the load on both ends of the court for the Suns to-date.
In the end, though, my decision came down to Paul and Booker—a tough choice made tougher by these wild stats from the Suns’ successful-but-sort-of-odd start: Phoenix has nearly identical (and excellent) net ratings in Booker-but-no-CP3 minutes and CP3-but-no-Booker minutes, and has been outscored when they share the court.