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Tyson Chandler saw Devin Booker’s potential right away

© Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In an appearance on the “All the Smoke” Podcast, former Suns center Tyson Chandler said that he knew Devin Booker was Phoenix’s best player as a rookie.

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Chandler signed with the Suns the same year that Booker was drafted 13th overall by the team (the 2015-16 season). He played in Phoenix until the 2018-19 season.

Chandler explains that when he signed, he didn’t really know the Suns’ roster. However, he knew the Suns were the highest on Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.

Chandler’s mind would soon be made up on who the best player was when he encountered Booker.

Booker and Chandler first met at a pickup game. Chandler told a story about how impressed he was with the then 19-year-old rookie right away.

“I’m guarding him, and he was able to pick up (everything) quick,” Chandler said. “I can tell him something once, boom. I told him like, ‘Come off this pin down this way …’ Boom, he did it. And I was like, ‘Young players don’t work like that.’ So instantly, I knew this kid was special. He’s gonna be special.

“I remember afterwards the GM (Ryan McDonough) was like, ‘What do you think?’ And I was like, ‘I’m gonna be honest with you. The best player you got on your roster is that kid that you drafted, Devin Booker.’ And he was like, ‘What? Really? What do you think about (Bledsoe and Knight)?’ I was like, ‘They’re good. I’m telling you. Me, them, this roster, he’s better than all of us. That’s the best player you got on this roster.'”

Booker played 27.7 minutes his rookie year, averaging 13.8 points, 2.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 76 games. That was his only season averaging below 20 points. He bumped his scoring up to 22.1 points in the 2016-17 season, and the number has pretty much gone up from there every year.

In the four seasons he played in Phoenix, Chandler averaged 7.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in 25 minutes per game (166 games total). His most memorable moment as a Sun came in 2017 when he had an alley-oop for the game winner on an out of bounds play. This play ended up being the precursor to Deandre’s Ayton infamous “Valley Oop” game-winner in Game 2 of the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals against the Clippers. 

Chandler was arguably the most influential vet Booker had in his early years.

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Brendan Mau is a Phoenix Suns insider and college sports reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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