If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? If you score 27, or even 28 points per game for a team nobody watches, are you an NBA All Star? Devin Booker and Bradley Beal gave us our answers tonight. Nope. We should've known. Turns out to win a popularity contest, you have to be, you know, popular.
Last year the Suns pumped out the fifth worst TV ratings in the NBA. This year, the Wizards saw their TV ratings fall by 57%. In this era of options, the Suns are competing against Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and a myriad of other things that are more entertaining than Ricky Rubio. It's not that Booker isn't a vastly improved player that now manipulates defenses like Harden and Bryant, it's that outside of Suns Twitter, nobody's ever seen him do it.
That's not on Devin Booker, that's on the Suns organization. His job is to perform. He's done that, in an incredibly mature manner, with a revolving door at head coach, and an endless fountain of youth at his side. The organization's job is to build an infrastructure around him that a transient market is willing to invest their time and money into. Last place in the Western Conference each of the last three years isn't getting it done. Neither are Hornacek, Watson, Triano or Kokoskov. Neither are Jackson, Peyton, Jones, Bledsoe or Bender.
The crux of the Devin Booker All Star problem is the crux of the NBA problem. Casual fans don't tune in until the end of April. Devin Booker never plays at the end of April. Even coaches, who were supposed to be the ones bailing Booker out this voting period, are more focused on their own team's problems in the middle of the 82-game NBA grind than mid-market players on losing teams. They're not so different from the rest of us. They do their jobs, clean up their own messes, and then check in on the national news. Sure, they might've coached against Booker twice before the voting deadline, but did he leave a bigger impression on that night than, say, Russell Westbrook might've?
If Devin Booker's going to be recognized individually, it's going to be on the heels of what the Suns added to the team this offseason. Legitimacy. A reason to watch. Wins. Suns diehards will always be there. Credit to them. But, give 48-year old Eric in Peoria with 3 kids and a U2 bicep tattoo a reason to watch, and now you're cooking with oil.