The NBA’s Western Conference race is always exciting, and this year is no exception. There are a few teams playing exceptionally well, and if things go right, a championship could be in their future. 

Here are three Western Conference teams that are legitimate contenders. 

1.) The Golden State Warriors 

The Golden Warriors are back where they belong. After two seasons of missing the playoffs, the Warriors are back on top of the West. And, they are looking like the beat to beat. 

Stephen Curry is having an MVP caliber season, as he averages 27.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.6 rebounds. He is also shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range. 

Curry has had some impressive games, including a 50-point game against the Atlanta Hawks (where he became the oldest player to have 50 points and 10 rebounds in a game) and a 40-point game against the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Warriors also have (young) players like Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II, and Jordan Poole playing well, and the Warriors have two other players returning from injury. Klay Thompson is closer to returning after missing two seasons with a torn ACL and a torn Achilles. The Warriors 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman may not return until after January, but if the Warriors get him back, they become an even stronger team. 

Golden State could be on the verge of adding another championship to their legacy, but there are a few teams that might think otherwise. One of them is a team the Warriors recently beat. 

2.) The Phoenix Suns 

The Phoenix Suns played well last season, and their effort led to them making the 2021 NBA Finals. While the Milwaukee Bucks came out victorious, the Suns showed they are a legitimate contender. 

The Suns have a backcourt of veteran guard Chris Paul and young star Devin Booker. Phoenix also has a center in Deandre Ayton that gives them building blocks to remain a contender for years to come. 

The Suns were impressive in November as they went on a franchise record 18-game winning streak and climbed the Western Conference standings. They beat a few noteworthy teams, including the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors, but the Warriors got their revenge a few days later. The Warriors beat the Suns 118-96 to end their winning streak

Phoenix is a tough team, and as their winning streak shows, they can compete with some of the best teams in the league. So, keep an eye on them throughout the season. 

3.) The Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz are a consistent playoff team. They’ve made the playoffs since the 2016-17 season, but they have been eliminated in the second round every year since then. Could this be their year? 

The Jazz are third in the West with a record of 16-7. They are on a four-game winning streak, beating teams like the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Their star guard Donovan Mitchell is having an impressive season, as he averages 24.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. Mitchell recently received Western Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 33.0 points, 5.7 assists and 1.7 steals, and the Jazz went 3-0 during the week. This was his third Western Conference Player of the Week of his career, and if he and the Jazz keep playing well, it won’t be his last. 

These three teams are extremely talented, and if any of them get hot, they have what it takes to contend.

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