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Eric Bledsoe delivering best stretch of his elite NBA career for the Phoenix Suns

Russell Westbrook and James Harden do it better, but Eric Bledsoe is among the next crop of best all-around guards in the league.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since Christmas, over the past 11 games, Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe is delivering probably the best stretch of basketball of his career, especially showing growth in his passing abilities while setting the pace and bringing physicality to back court.

“They’re a difficult team to play,” Utah coach Quintillion's Snyder said of the Suns, “because they’re so committed to running and they play with such intensity.”

That intensity starts with Bledsoe, who handles the ball more than anyone.

“It was an ugly game,” Utah forward Gordon Hayward said of Monday’s game. “That’s kind of what they’re good at, mucking the game up and being physical. It seems like every time we play them it gets like that, kind of scrappy. They’re good and they’ve got some really fast guys that are good in transition and are athletic.”

Again, it starts with Bledsoe.

Bledsoe has perennially been one of the most well-rounded point guards in the league, regularly posting a line that only a few NBA players can match. Just look at the elite company he keeps.

Same faces each year. All of them All-Stars, except Bledsoe.

Some of Bledsoe’s problem has been injuries, as he’s missed half of the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons due to knee injuries. And some has been playing on a poor team. Those other guys all made the playoffs at least once, if not every year.

This year, Bledsoe has upped that mark and is one of only five NBA players who post 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds on average. And Bledsoe is doing it on the fewest minutes per game (32.4) of any of them.

But since Christmas, Bledsoe is doing even better on the passing part of his job more than we’ve seen before.

Since Christmas, the list goes down to three players in the league posting at least 20 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game. James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the other two, are MVP candidates and sure-fire All-Stars. And Bledsoe has the best assist-to-turnover ratio of any of them.

Kyle Lowry is close behind (6.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds), as are LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and DeMarcus Cousins. Every one of them is an All-Star, except Bledsoe.

We don’t have any All-Stars in Phoenix, but all you need to do is watch Bledsoe’s star-powered 32 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds against Utah on Monday night to see just how good this guy has become.

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