If the Golden State Warriors Glanced in Their Rearview Mirror They’d See the Hottest Team in the Western Conference, and It Should Scare Them

The Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA. Stephen Curry is in the headlines seemingly every night for breaking another 3-point shooting record. But the hottest team in the NBA — and the team only 1.5 games back of the Dubs in the Western Conference standings — isn’t going away. Beware of the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns are riding an 11-game winning streak. Chris Paul is breaking records of his own. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are picking up right where they left off last season.

Somehow, the defending Western Conference champions are flying under the radar. But it’s getting hot in the desert, and the Warriors should be worried.

The Phoenix Suns have won 11 straight games

Monty Williams and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns, who are hot on the heels of the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference standings, talk during a time out.
Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Chris Paul during the first half of a game against the Golden State Warriors. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Phoenix started the season 1-3. The team hasn’t lost since. The Suns’ last defeat came before Halloween on Oct. 30.

During that stretch, Phoenix is No. 2 in the league in scoring (112.3 points per game), No. 3 in field-goal percentage (47.5), and No. 5 in 3-point percentage (36.7).

Ayton is averaging 12.2 rebounds, which helps put the Suns at No. 4 in the NBA in that category. They’re also fourth in assists during their 11-game win streak.

The Suns have been no slouch on defense either. They’re second in defensive rating during this current stretch, third in steals, and sixth in opponent points in the paint.

And just like it was last season when Phoenix made it to the NBA Finals and had a 2-0 lead over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s been a team effort.

Booker, Ayton, and CP3 aren’t the only Suns on fire

The Point God isn’t the team’s best scorer, but even at age 36 and in his 17th season, Paul is still in charge. And early in the season, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

CP3 is averaging 14.4 points, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 steals through 15 games.

According to StatMuse, Paul is the only player in the NBA to be averaging more than 10 points per game, 10 assists per game, and two steals per game this season.

Booker leads the team in scoring at 22.7 points per game. He’s shooting 37.0% from three on more than six attempts per night. Ayton is averaging a double-double with 14.4 points and 12.2 rebounds. The fourth-year center is shooting 61.6% from the floor.

But the Suns are getting plenty of contributions from the rest of the roster — both expected and unexpected.

Mikal Bridges is No. 1 on the team in minutes and is scoring 14.1 points a game on 55.1% shooting and 42.4% shooting from deep.

Frank Kaminsky (10.6 points in 20.1 minutes per game) and JaVale McGee (10.1 points in 16.4 minutes per game) are giving Phoenix depth behind Ayton it didn’t have last year.

Landry Shamet is shooting 40.3% from three on 4.4 attempts per night.

Paul, Booker, and Ayton are leading the charge, but they’re getting plenty of help.

There’s no reason to think Phoenix won’t remain near the top of the Western Conference standings

The Suns lost four straight in last year’s Finals. They had Milwaukee on the brink, but Antetokounmpo proved to be too much for an overmatched Phoenix front line.

So technically, this team doesn’t have “championship” experience. But the group is used to winning, and a run to the 2021 Finals isn’t nothing for young, ascending stars like Book and Ayton.

CP3 needs to stay healthy. The 11-time All-Star has a notoriously long injury history, and the Suns are a different team without their leader on the floor.

But this team is built to win a championship. It almost happened last year.

The Warriors are getting all the hype, but Phoenix is hot on their heels and won’t be going away anytime soon.

All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

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