View Full Version : Devin Booker vs. D'Angelo Russell

05-19-2017, 02:55 PM
This debate started in the Knicks forum and I seem to be the only one who thinks it's close. Booker is the better scorer, but Russell has a better all around game to me.

Last month, Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton debated the top players from the 2015 draft, with Ford taking Booker over Russell and Pelton taking Russell over Booker:

Ford: 4. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

I know Booker is ranked only 53rd in RPM among NBA shooting guards, so the advanced stats aren't on his side at this point. But it's hard for me to ignore what one of the youngest players in the draft class of 2015 is doing as a sophomore.

I'm not talking about just his 70-point outburst against the Boston Celtics recently. He's also averaged 24 points per game since the All-Star break. While his shooting percentages aren't those of an elite shooter, I think Booker has what it takes to get there.

Defense is another issue entirely. He's pretty awful. But looking over the rest of the class, I just don't see another player who I think can get to where Booker looks close to getting already.

Pelton: 4. D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers

In the eyes of most of the basketball world, Booker is winning the battle of score-first, defense-poor guards taken in last year's lottery.

But as you suggest, the advanced stats solidly favor Russell. While Booker is a bit more efficient as a scorer and has a higher usage rate, Russell's assist rate is nearly double his. And while nobody will confuse Russell with Tony Allen, he at least supplies some steals and defensive rebounds.

I think the Lakers' starting to shift Russell off the ball will ultimately work in his favor by taking away the expectation that he needs to be a traditional, playmaking point guard. And as he develops the ability to shoot the pull-up 3 -- perhaps the most important skill for a point guard in the modern game -- I think it will compensate for his relatively poor athleticism and create more opportunities for Russell to put to use the court vision he flashed at Ohio State.

Ford: 5. D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers

Russell was a surprise riser on the 2015 draft boards. Even two weeks before the draft, it seemed unlikely that he'd go as high as No. 2 to the Lakers.

But there was a sizzle to Russell's game that appealed to the Lakers. They wanted a star to start building around, and Russell played with that sort of swagger.

He hasn't played as well as the Lakers had hoped. But if we downsize expectations a bit, the Lakers should have a lot to feel encouraged by -- for all the reasons you mentioned.

And if they can land someone like Lonzo Ball in this year's draft, moving Russell off the ball could really set him free of the expectations he's carried with him since draft night.

Pelton: 5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

As skeptical as I am that Booker will ever rate as well in terms of advanced stats as he does in points per game, I can't put him any lower than this. Booker has shown both a unique ability to create his own shot at a young age and occasional playmaking chops.

If he can add efficiency to the mix, he'll be a quality starter no matter how infrequently he grabs a rebound or comes up with a steal.

If you're curious they both had KAT, KP, and Turner as the top three players from that class.

So is it close, which player do you think is better now and which player do you see being better long term?