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The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

NBA roundup: Rating overachievers and underperformers

Teams+like+the+Orlando+Magic+and+the+Oklahoma+City+Thunder%2C+as+well+as+players+like+Jalen+Brunson%2C+stood+out+as+overachievers+in+the+2023-2024+NBA+season.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Teams like the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as players like Jalen Brunson, stood out as overachievers in the 2023-2024 NBA season.

With the NBA playoffs halfway finished, we look back on the regular season and the crazy 82 games that happened over the last several months. As we look back on this season, many teams and players seemed to do just as expected by fans and their organizations. However, there were some diamonds in the rough, as teams like the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as players like Jalen Brunson, did exceptionally well. However, there are some who did worse than what was expected. Players like Jordan Poole and Scoot Henderson and teams like the Milwaukee Bucks disappointed many with their poor performances this season. 

 

Overachiever 1: The Orlando Magic

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After not being in the playoffs since the 2019-2020 season, this was expected to be another year where the Magic showed improvement and tried to make their team better in the offseason. However, their young core stepped up and competed for most of the season. Paolo Banchero was a 20+ PPG scorer, Franz Wagner showed why he is one of the most underrated small forwards in the league, and Jamahl Mosley was in contention for COTY (coach of the year). Other players including Jalen Suggs, Wendall Carter and Cole Anthony contributed significantly to a 47-35 season that helped the team attain the 5th seed in the playoffs. Despite a devastating loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, this team has a lot more room to grow. With this being one of the youngest teams in the league, it’s safe to say that this team has a bright future ahead of them. 

 

Underachiever 1: Jordan Poole

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After losing the talented Kristaps Porziņģis to Boston and overpaying to keep small forward Kyle Kuzma, the Washington Wizards made a deal with the Golden State Warriors to acquire the inconsistent, yet young, Jordan Poole. After being punched by his own teammate Draymond Green and causing disruptions in the locker room, the Warriors got rid of Poole for the aging Chris Paul to help improve their bench. Many people thought that on one of the worst rosters in the league, Poole would be a 25+ point per game (PPG) scorer and take an All-Star leap. Not only was he not an All-Star, he was coming off the bench before the season ended. The numerous clips of Poole looking like he had never picked up a basketball showed how bad he was for a team that didn’t even win 15 games. His confidence was shot, and he’s looked underwhelming ever since arriving in the nation’s capital. Despite maybe not being all there mentally, his bad play on the court was noticed by many.

 

Overachiever 2: The Oklahoma City Thunder

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With Chet Holmgren returning from injury and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander coming off an All-NBA season, the Thunder were expected to make a push at a playoff berth this year. No one expected what was to come. Gilgeous-Alexander became an MVP candidate, Jalen Williams took another huge leap towards being an All-Star caliber player and Holmgren finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. The team finished with the best record in the West, outplaying teams like the Nuggets and Clippers who were seen as the favorites by many. Their bond with each other is like no other in the league, as in many interviews they all act like one big family. The team’s young development of players came much earlier than people expected considering the amount of draft capital they have for the next few years. For a team that hasn’t had success like this in eight years, it’s safe to say that OKC will be going on many playoff runs in the near future.

 

Underachiever 2: The Milwaukee Bucks

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After making one of, if not the biggest trade of the offseason by acquiring Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers, the Bucks were seen as instant championship favorites. After starting 30-13 and being right in the mix for the number one seed in the east, it looked like the Bucks would cruise into the playoffs. However, their season changed for the worse. The Bucks fired Adrian Griffin, a shocking move after the team’s success to start the season. They immediately hired Doc Rivers to take over due to his experience as a coach in the league and his mastermind at creating a strong defense. Their defense didn’t improve, injuries caught up with both Antetokounmpo and Lillard near the end of the season and Doc Rivers wasn’t the guy the Bucks needed him to be. The Bucks would go on to lose to the Pacers in the first round after falling to the 3 seed in the playoffs. 

 

Overachiever 3: Jalen Brunson

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Last season, the Knicks gave Brunson a 4-year, 160 million-dollar contract, the largest contract ever given to a player who never made an All-Star team. Brunson would soon prove all the haters wrong. After bringing the Knicks to the playoffs as the fifth seed, Brunson took his game to another level this year. He made his first All-Star game, finished fifth in MVP voting and brought the Knicks to the 2nd seed in the playoffs. Brunson was on another level this year, especially when Julius Randle went down with a shoulder tear and remained hurt for the rest of the season. He has become the best point guard the Knicks have had since Walt Frazier in the 1970s. Brunson has become a top 5 point guard in the league and has shown he has been worth every penny of that contract. 

 

Underachiever 3: Scoot Henderson

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With Victor Wembanyama being the undisputed number-one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, many people believed that Scoot Henderson would be the second pick and go to the Hornets. However, the Hornets went for a positional need and took wing Brandon Miller instead. After trading away Damian Lillard, one of their best players in franchise history, the Portland Trail Blazers had come across a miracle to take who they thought could be their next franchise point guard in Henderson. Many people questioned the Hornets pick and saw big things for Scoot in his rookie season, especially on an underwhelming Portland squad. However, Scoot never found his rhythm. He finished the year averaging only 14.0 points per game (PPG) and having 3.4 turnovers per game. Meanwhile, small forward Brandon Miller shined with the Charlotte Hornets, averaging 17.3 points per game (PPG) and 4.3 rebounds per game (RPG). While it’s way too early to call Scoot a bust, this was a very underwhelming season for the supposedly second-best player in his draft class. 

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