Suns’ Devin Booker, Kevin Durant place in top 2 tiers of The Athletic’s NBA rankings

Aug 20, 2023, 5:03 PM | Updated: Aug 21, 2023, 7:39 am

Phoenix Suns Kevin Durant Devin Booker...

Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns react to the bench after a stop in play during the first quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Arena on April 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns will debut their new look roster this season filled with some of the best players across the league.

The Athletic’s Seth Partnow released his NBA player tiers for 2023 that featured lofty rankings for both Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

Durant dropped from the 1A category down to 1B (still top six players in the NBA) while Booker was in 2A (top 12 players).

The only players ranked ahead of Durant were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic all in 1A. Tier 1B included Durant, Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid, while Booker was joined by LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum in 2A.

I wavered on whether the string of recent injuries and playoff disappointments should push Kevin Durant down into Tier 2. And then I reminded myself he shot nearly 62 percent on 2-pointers last year, over 40 percent from 3 and nearly 92 percent from the line, leading to efficiency 16 percent above league average despite carrying a usage rate north of 30 percent.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible Devin Booker stamps his claim as the Suns’ best player. Whether that means Booker gets this spot or Durant ends up tumbling down a sub-tier or three (or both!) would depend on exactly how that came to pass. But much like LeBron James this year, the end of his time at the top will come. We’ll see if Durant can push that reckoning off by another year.

In the regular season, Booker averaged 27.8 points per game on 49.4% shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steals. Durant added 26.0 points on 57% shooting, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in just eight regular season games.

Not only will the roster be different on the court next season, but the coaching staff will also be completely revamped with defensive-minded head coach Frank Vogel.

It’s still unclear whether Booker will be running a majority of his time in the point guard role or as the natural shooting guard he is. That is not to say the time fans in the Valley have seen of “Point Book” was unsuccessful as the All-Star greatly improved his passing ability.

Other Suns to appear on the list were Bradley Beal, who came in the 3B category while Deandre Ayton ranked in the 4C group.

Other notable names included Mikal Bridges at 3C, Chris Paul at 4A and local college products Luguentz Dort and Bennedict Mathurin at 5A.

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