5 winners and 5 losers from the 2023-24 NBA season

summary

  • The 2023-24 NBA regular season ended recently and there were many surprises.
  • Some of the winners this season include the Knicks, Spurs and Celtics.

The 2023-24 NBA season is officially over and multiple teams are gearing up for a very competitive playoff run that lies ahead. We’ve seen plenty of surprises and upsets this season, starting with the Miami Heat. After making a huge run to the 2023 NBA Finals, this team struggled through 82 games. Now, they have to go through the grueling play-in tournament.

In the Western Conference, nearly every team between the 1st and 11th seeds had a good chance to make the playoffs at various times. The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers may have been the toughest to watch during the season, however, they still have a chance to make a playoff run through the playoffs. The Houston Rockets finished their season with a 41-41 record, better than some previous playoff teams. But by the end of the regular season they were pushed to the eleventh seed.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder were huge surprises out West. The two teams at the top of the rankings are different points in the season. And in the East, the Boston Celtics won hearts after earning the league’s best record this season. However, the Milwaukee Bucks had their worst season despite being the 3rd pick. Now let’s take a look at five of this year’s biggest winners and losers.

Top five winners of the 2023-24 NBA season

James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers

James Harden hasn’t had a great season after experiencing back-to-back deals with Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers. He eventually walked out of the Sixers franchise and set his heart on the LA Clippers full time. He was traded to LA for multiple draft picks, Nicholas Tatum, Robert Covington, KJ Martin and Marcus Morris Sr.

Before Harden’s arrival, the Clippers weren’t having the best run. However, the presence of the 2018 MVP has unlocked a window of opportunity for the Clippers that includes a guaranteed playoff run. The Clippers were able to replace the lack of a star point guard in the starting lineup since Russell Westbrook came off the bench. Now, the Clippers are a dangerous playoff team and people believe that Russell’s presence off the bench will lead them to the title.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Last season, Shai Gilgeous Alexander established himself as OKC’s next great leader averaging 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 a*sists per game. And it’s certain that if OKC has a winning record, he’ll make a run for MVP at some point. After Chet Holmgren missed the entire season with a Lisfranc fracture, he debuted this season averaging 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 a*sists and 2.3 blocks per game.

Just as Harden unleashed so many possibilities for LA, Chet had the same impact on the Thunder. Being a dangerous figure in the paint, he helped create plays and open looks for SGA as well as Jalen Williams. OKC finished first in the West while SGA could be named this year’s MVP.

San Antonio Spurs

While it may be a controversial pick that could be considered the winner, the San Antonio Spurs actually hit the jackpot last off-season. Victor Wembanyama was considered the greatest NBA draft prospect since LeBron James and he has lived up to the hype. In fact, Wembey may have had a better rookie season than the 4x NBA champion. He averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 a*sists, 1.2 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.

Although he still has a lot to prove, Victor is probably the best thing to happen to the Spurs since Tim Duncan. Right now, they are working with a potential franchise player as they surround him with the right circumstances. Wembanyama is the frontrunner for the 2024 Rookie of the Year award. He also made an incredible case for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year title. However, he likely won’t be the first rookie to hold DPOY as the Spurs haven’t seen much success.

Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks

Jalen Brunson showed a lot of potential and leadership qualities during the Dallas Mavericks’ playoff run against the Golden State Warriors in 2022. Scott Perry made an incredible move by signing Brunson to a four-year, $104 million deal. Even though Brunson is already in his second year with the team, it’s unlikely the Knicks see a future with him.

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Brunson averaged 28.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.7 a*sists on 40.1% shooting from the three-point arc. The Knicks also earned the second seed above the Bucks in the East rankings. They are the only team other than the Celtics to win at least 50 games. Additionally, Perry added Ozzy Anunoby and Bojan Bogdanovic to the roster which had an immediate positive impact and helped them win more efficiently.

Boston Celtics

No list of winners would be complete without mentioning Boston, the top ranked team in the East. Ever since Jayson Tatum took over as their number one option, the Celtics have had a lot of success in the playoffs. They have appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals twice and the NBA Finals in 2022. Tatum averaged 27.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 a*sists over the past four seasons and has been a strong MVP candidate.

During the off-season, Brad Stevens made an incredible move by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis in a three-way trade involving the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies. While people believe it was a bad decision to let go of Marcus Smart because he was a former DPOY, Porzingis has filled in quite well. Boston acquired Jrue Holiday to fill the vacant starting point guard position. KP has done wonders on offense with their third option averaging 20 points per game.

Top five losers of the 2023-24 NBA season

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard pushed himself out of the Portland Trail Blazers just to win a championship. For 11 seasons, the point guard has stayed true to the organization without making any effort to improve the roster around him. The Milwaukee Bucks quietly facilitated a blockbuster trade involving the Phoenix Suns and acquired Lillard as a second star. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard have led one of the best offenses this year with a combined total of 55.7 points per game.

But they made a big mistake by firing head coach Adrian Griffin. The mistake happened after they hired Doc Rivers as Griffin’s replacement. Rivers has a history of making poor decisions and playoff runs. During Griffin’s tenure, the Bucks previously went 30-13. At one point they also achieved the top position of the conference. However, Rivers’ tenure with the Bucks resulted in a 17-19 run. Defensively, he was not able to lead the team to a higher level, nor could he coach the team well during the game.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have an exceptional roster led by LeBron James and co-star Anthony Davis. Although the team is dealing with multiple injuries, James and Davis haven’t been terrible this season. James battled an ankle ailment while Davis appeared for 76 games. Everything was headed in the right direction in terms of talent, especially with the emergence of Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura on the offensive end.

However, Darwin Hamm was a problem that needed to be dealt with. Hamm realized much later than bringing Reaves and Russell into the starting lineup with Hachimura when they started winning more. However, at the start of the season, he would look up Cam Reddish and Torian Prince despite being much less productive on the floor than the other mentioned athletes. The Lakers face another play-in run.

Washington Wizards

As much as people wanted to see Jordan Poole spread his wings as the top option on the Wizards’ roster, it didn’t happen. Poole was a breakout star during the 2021-22 season while playing for the Warriors. He averaged 18.5 points per game while shooting 36.4% from deep that season. The following year, Poole averaged 20.4 points per game while shooting 33.6% from deep on 7.8 attempts.

However, they should have kept Chris Paul instead of trading him for Poole in the off-season. Paul was a great mentor and his history of building young teams is still going strong. Chris was successful in defeating the Phoenix Suns. He managed to lead them to a 64-18 record starring Devin Booker. Who knows what he could have gotten out of Kyle Kuzma?

Victor Wembanyama

While the Spurs celebrated the acquisition of a generation of talent, the No. 1 showed some frustration with how things were going with the team as a whole. The Spurs had nearly the worst record in the West but somehow finished above the Blazers with a 22-60 record. San Antonio was one of the worst defensive teams in the league even though Victor led the league in blocks per game.

Unfortunately, this was a trend with the Spurs even when DeMar DeRozan was on the roster. They didn’t have much talent to back up DeRozan, who averaged 21.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 a*sists over two seasons. Spurs are a relatively small market and they need to build a team over time. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before they do.

Memphis Grizzlies

The team was one of the biggest upsets last season, finishing second in the West with a 51-31 record. The Lakers surprised the world by beating them in the first round of the playoffs and eventually advancing to the conference finals. Memphis had to release Dillon Brooks shortly after their season ended, but he was a solid defensive a*set. Ja Morant also had an off-season accident that sidelined him for 25 games this season.

The Grizzlies lost terribly before Morant returned to the floor and led them to a 6-3 record while he was available. Unfortunately, Morant suffered a torn labrum that sidelined him for the rest of the season. They ended their run with a 27–55 record as the 13th seed in the West. Although injuries were not in their control, they fell precipitously from being a projected playoff team.

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