Primo's Intangibles Show More Promise
While my first two points are a bit more evidence-based, here I'll indulge in a bit more opinionated content based on my observations of Booker. Essentially, though, if you watched the recent NBA Finals, you may have seen what I saw. In my opinion, Booker doesn't have the grit required to win a Finals series.
In the Finals, Booker averaged over three turnovers a game and was frequently pestered by Jrue Holiday's aggressive defense. He scored well, but he shot only 45% from the field overall. Furthermore, in his two worst games (games 3 and 6), he shot a combined 31% (11-36) from the field. Those numbers, no matter how one may look at them, are far from inspiring.
There’s a reason that Primo was selected as high as he was despite being mocked so low. He impressed at the NBA Combine when it mattered most, he seems to interview well, and by all accounts, showed that he’s a hard worker.
While the same can potentially be said about Booker, his inconsistent NBA Finals performances make me question his motor. Even going back to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, Booker didn't seem to have much of an impact in Kentucky's loss to an (ironically) Frank Kaminsky-led Wisconsin team. While he made three of his six shots in that game, Booker also recorded three personal fouls, one rebound, and zero assists, steals, and blocks.
In the NBA, Booker has spent his entire career more or less wallowing in Phoneix, only recently finding Playoff glory with the help of Chris Paul. When playing on a bad team, a low effort is ignored, and to a degree perhaps even expected at times. Thankfully for Primo, he was drafted to one of the most storied teams in the NBA in the Spurs. Laziness and a lack of effort surely will not be tolerated on a Popovich-led team.
Even after a mediocre performance against UCLA in this past year's NCAA Tournament, I have far fewer concerns about Primo's motor and effort. At Alabama, Primo averaged more blocks, steals, and rebounds than Booker did. Seeing that Primo has the edge in these hustle stats tells me that he works hard on the floor, places importance on defense, and will fit into the Spurs' system well.
Even if Devin Booker is the more talented player right now, Josh Primo has the tools and work ethic to eventually become one of the best shooting guards in the league. Fans will need to be patient, but if he's allowed to properly develop, he could surpass Booker and perhaps even become the next great Spur.