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Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill looks at the defending Western Conference champions, who take on the Golden State Warriors in a Christmas Day showdown.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Maybe it's easy to overlook the Phoenix Suns. I mean, after all, beating the Lakers by 18 in LA with no Anthony Davis gives us plenty of reasons to believe that a Lakers team with plenty of players and health and safety protocols would have put up a much better fight. But if you think about it, only the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors are the consistent teams in the NBA from a night to night basis.
You know what you're going to get from them. Devin Booker has been out with a hamstring injury-- came back and played as if he never left. But in the time in between, so many players stepped up easily into those roles.
DeAndre Ayton is the next great big man in the NBA. And even he hasn't let his contract situation affect his play this year. Montel Williams said as much as this year that no selfish moments he has seen from Ayton with that contract hanging over his head.
And if the first thing you think about what the Suns is the Robert Sarver situation where he's been accused of so many things and not their play on the floor, that's more of a function of the attention and the oxygen that we give to every other good team in the league and not this Suns team. Yes, they did not win the NBA championship last year, and they beat a hobbled Denver Nuggets team, a hobbled LA Clippers team, and, of course, the Lakers in the first round.
But they can't apologize for who they beat. They can apologize for who they played. When you look at the Suns from a night-to-night basis, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, even JaVale McGee, and Ayton turned into the best big man duo in the league with something that we could have seen coming if we chose to believe in it.
Now, if we see the Suns and the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, of course, the inclination is going to be to believe in the known commodity, to believe in the Warriors being three-time champions. But remember this, at one point, the Golden State Warriors were the new team on the block that everybody had doubts in whether it was their playstyle, or whether it was the fact that they had beaten some hobbled teams in their first run to the NBA Finals. Maybe the Phoenix Suns led by Monty Williams, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton are that next big brand that the NBA will have to deal with for the next several seasons.