How long until the Phoenix Suns play on Christmas?

Phoenix Suns De'Anthony Melton (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns De'Anthony Melton (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns didn’t get a Christmas Day game this year. How long will it be until they get to play on the best NBA day of the year?

The NBA on Christmas Day is the best slate of regular season basketball all year. For the most part, the league does a good job of picking meaningful games that people want to watch. And for a while now, there would have been no reason to make the Suns one of the ten teams to play on Christmas. That’s saved for the league’s best teams (and, annoyingly, teams from New York and Los Angeles).

The last time the Suns played a game on December 25th was in 2009, when they went into Los Angeles and beat the Clippers by 31 points. Nine years later, and the Suns have been mostly awful since then. But they’re getting better, and just as importantly, they’re getting more exciting. But to crack the list, at least one of the ten teams will have to get knocked off. Who will it be?

It won’t be the Golden State Warriors. It won’t be the Los Angeles Lakers. If this New York Knicks team can play on Christmas, any Knicks team can. The Boston Celtics will play again, and it’s hard to see the Philadelphia 76ers or Milwaukee Bucks getting snubbed. That’s six teams definitely in.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets aren’t locks to play, but with an MVP each, they’re still both ahead of the Suns. The Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz are almost locks to not play. So that’s at least two spots for next season. Who’s next up in line?

If Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard leave for the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, they’ll definitely be playing on Christmas. The breakout Sacramento Kings have a good shot to play. If Kawhi Leonard stays with the Toronto Raptors, they should play too. What about the Denver Nuggets? How can they be left out again? Even the Dallas Mavericks are probably ahead of the Suns right now considering the league’s infatuation with Luka Doncic.

Just a quick look around the NBA shows how far back the Suns are and likely will continue to be for some time in the league’s pecking order. The only way up the list will be for the Suns to make the playoffs, and that won’t happen this season. Having multiple All-Stars would help, but with the talented bigs in the Western Conference, Deandre Ayton is at least a year away from having a real shot of getting in.

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So with all that in mind, it’s hard to see how the Phoenix Suns could be playing on Christmas Day next season. They’ll need to prove themselves first, meaning they’ll probably need to get a top four seed in the West before being given such a big game. That means a Christmas game is at least two years away for the Suns.