NBA: Suprises & flops of 2023–24 regular season? 

NBA: Suprises & flops of 2023–24 regular season? 

The curtains have been drawn on the 2023–24 NBA regular season, which ended with a much-anticipated bang in both the Western and Eastern Conferences as major movements were witnessed in the standings.

In the East, the New York Knicks pipped Milwaukee into second place after they defeated the Chicago Bulls in overtime, while the Bucks lost in Orlando to the Magic in what was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s last game out with a calf injury.

Meanwhile, in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder claimed the top spot, while the New Orleans Pelicans were the proverbial sacrificial lamb as they relinquished the last automatic playoff spot and dropped into the Play-In Tournament after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on the final day of the regular season.

With all thirty NBA teams completing their eighty-two games, Afrosport takes a microscopic look into the recently concluded regular season with the aim of handpicking the best performers and surprises, as well as the underwhelming teams in no particular order.



Orlando Magic (East)

The Orlando Magic entered this season as the fifth-youngest team in the league, but their perceived lack of experience did hinder them from going toe-to-toe with the league’s best franchises.

Led by Jamahl Mosley, Orlando ended this season with a 47-35 winning record, which helped them claim a fifth-place finish and book an automatic playoff berth. This signifies a huge rise from their 2022–23 season, when they finished with the fifth-worst record in the league with a 34–48 record.

The Magic also won the Southeast Division, and this will be their first playoff appearance since 2020 and only their third in 12 years.

Indiana Pacers (East)

Like Orlando, the Indiana Pacers last participated in the playoffs in 2020, when they finished fourth in the East.

With an average of 24.85 years, the Pacers, the seventh youngest team in the league this season, finished the regular season with a similar win-loss record as the Magic with 47 wins and 35 losses, marking the first time since the 2019-20 season they recorded a winning campaign.

Indiana’s rise this season was noteworthy as they got to the final of the inaugural in-season Tournament, losing to the Lakers. They also registered twelve more wins than they did last season.

New York Knicks (East)

The New York Knicks seem to be getting back to their old selves since the trade of Jalen Brunson from the Dallas Mavericks last season. Although many experts tipped them to get a place in the playoffs this season, not many believed they would achieve the goal in the manner in which they did.

Despite securing back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in over a decade, the Knicks surprised everyone by finishing second in the East with a 50-32 record, their first 50-win season since the 2012-13 campaign when they got 54 wins.

Oklahoma City Thunder (West)

OKC entered the 2023–24 NBA regular season with high expectations, with emerging stars like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Jalen Williams, as well as a debut campaign for 7-foot-1 Chet Holmgren, who missed his actual rookie season with an injury.

However, not many gave them a chance in a star-studded Western Conference, seeing as they had not recorded a winning season in four years. All of that changed this season for the Thunder, who are the youngest team in the NBA, as they finished with a 57-25 winning record, a 17-game improvement from last season.

They also clinched the Northwest Division for the first time since the 2015-16 season, as well as finishing with the league’s second-best record and the best record in the West for the first time since the 2012-13 season, leading to Mark Diagneault claiming the NBCA Coach of the Year award.

Minnesota Timberwolves (West)

The Timberwolves finished third in the West, ending with a 56-26 record in the regular season, the first time they clinched 50 wins in two decades since they had 58 wins in the 2003-04 season.

Minnesota also made a big jump from last season, as they witnessed a 14-game improvement, while also making it the first time in three seasons that they have reached the postseason without needing to go through the pain of the play-in tournament.



Philadelphia 76ers (East)

The home of the reigning league MVP was somewhat underwhelming this season, as they needed an almost perfect end to the season to finish in seventh place, just missing out on an automatic playoff spot.

Although excuses could be made about the availability of Joel Embiid, who missed a lot of games with a knee injury, the 76ers recorded just 47 wins, their lowest since the 2019–2020 season, and will participate in the NBA Play-In Tournament for the first time ever.

Miami Heat (East)

The Heat, three-time NBA champions, have made the Play-In Tournament for the second consecutive season.

They finished the regular season with a 46-36 record, and although they won two more games than they did last campaign, Miami dropped one spot to eighth from seventh in the 2022–23 campaign.

Los Angeles Lakers (West)

The Lakers won the inaugural NBA In-season tournament and many thought this would set a marker for what would be an interesting season for the 17-time champions.

However, they further slipped and only regained themselves after the All-Star break when they won 17 of their 26 games. The Lakers ended the regular season with a 47-35 record, and they only finished seventh after beating the Pelicans on the final day of the season.

They will be competing in the Play-In tournament for the third time in five years, a period where they also missed out on the postseason totally, and this is rather disappointing with the superstars in their ranks.

Golden State Warriors (West)

The Warriors, have also been as underwhelming as their Pacific Division rivals, the Lakers’. Steve Kerr’s side finished tenth in the regular season, marking their lowest finish since the 2019-20 season when they were bottom of the Western standings.

Golden State finished with a 46-36 record, with their final day win over the Utah Jazz helping them to a 21-20 record at home, their worst in four years.

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