Heading into the fourth year of the rebuild, would the Chicago Bulls actually get any better if they were to trade the Suns for Devin Booker?
Amid the hotter names in trade discussions around various NBA fan bases and the media is with the Phoenix Suns star shooting guard and former Kentucky Wildcat Devin Booker. Although the Suns were one of the most impressive teams through the remainder of the regular season, after the 2019-20 campaign resumed in the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, Booker still has his name thrown around various NBA fan bases in hypothetical trade scenarios. But does it make any sense for a team like the Chicago Bulls to be involved in this discussion?
The problem with the Bulls pursuing a player like Booker is the fact that they already have a really good shooting guard on the roster now with 25-year-old stud Zach LaVine. If the Bulls brought Booker in, there would be little usage to go around beyond he and LaVine. Most trade packages that could actually transpire between the Bulls and Suns, if Booker is involved in the deal, would also see LaVine go to Phoenix.
And if the Bulls want to trade LaVine, a big follow-up question emerges as to how much better they would be with Booker instead.
In the season that was for the Suns, Booker played in 70 games (starting in all of them). In fact, Booker has not missed a start since his rookie season. But in those 70 games played during the 2019-20 campaign, Booker averaged 26.6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks. He shot 48.9 percent from the field, 35.4 percent from beyond the arc, and an impressive 91.9 percent from the free-throw line.
That amounted to a career-best 2.2 box plus/minus rating, .143 win shares per 48 minutes, 7.5 total win shares, a career-high 61.8 true shooting percentage, and a 20.6 player efficiency rating.
Compare that to the 60 games that LaVine played in (all of which he also started), and you can pretty similar stat lines. LaVine averaged 25.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks. He shot 45.0 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 80.2 percent from the free-throw line.
That amounted to a career-best 2.4 box plus/minus rating, .091 win shares per 48 minutes, 4.0 total win shares, 56.8 true shooting percentage, and 19.4 player efficiency rating.
The main differences between Booker and LaVine is that the former of the two will head into the 2020-21 season with a ton of momentum, coming off his scorching hot stretch with the Suns in the bubble, and the ability on the defensive end of the floor.
Most of the numbers from the 2019-20 season prove that LaVine was a better defender than Booker. LaVine averaged more steals and blocks per game, and he had a better defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus rating. Maybe Booker is just in the wrong defensive system, but Bulls fans shouldn’t ignore the progress that LaVine is making on that end of the floor.
Considering that LaVine and Booker would be pretty similar players in most situations next season, and beyond for the Bulls, the final question begs what the Suns would be asking in return. The way that the Suns ended the season in the bubble should make you think that the price tag for Booker in any trade package would be high.
The Bulls would likely have to part ways with a significant portion of their young core, or a lot of future draft assets. Booker also will command nearly twice the base salary of LaVine starting during the 2020-21 season.
Most signs point to the fact that it wouldn’t be too wise for the Bulls to invest in a Booker trade. LaVine is still very valuable to this team, and they need to make the right move if they plan on trading him this offseason. Getting Booker in return (unless they’re able to absolutely fleece the Suns which isn’t likely) wouldn’t do much to progress this rebuild.