2016-2017 Season Recap

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2016-2017 Season Recap

by Evan Dyal


We all saw it coming, but now the reality has sunk in. The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions. Even though the NBA season went the way we thought it would, it doesn’t mean there weren’t some surprises along the way. Like every year there were teams who impressed, disappointed and in the words of Dennis Green “Were who we thought they were”. Deciding who impressed or not, was based on my and other NBA experts predictions on teams before the season started. Also I based off it the regular season, not the playoffs. For example, I thought the Clippers Impressed in the regular season, even though they had a disappointing loss in the first round that was mainly due to injury. Without further a do, here are the teams that impressed in the 2016-2017 NBA season.


Teams That Impressed!

  1. 1.San Antonio Spurs!

I know, I know, the Spurs are always good. However, this was a team that lost one of the best players to ever play in the offseason. For those living under a rock, I am referring to Tim Duncan retiring. San Antonio won 61 games this year, which was second best in all of basketball. The Spurs also boasted the best defense in the league, while posting the seventh best offense. Kawhi Leonard emerged as the best two-way force in basketball and as a legitimate MVP candidate. Also remember this team was up 23 points in Golden State in Game 1 against the Warriors, before Kawhi got hurt. As usual it was an impressive season for the Spurs!


  1. Houston Rockets!

Yes, game 6 at home against the Spurs was an all time disaster. However, the Rockets’ regular season was all time. Under coach of the year candidate Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets reinvented themselves, and posted the second best offense in the league. James Harden became the full-time point guard and put up an MVP caliber season. Their win total improved 14 games from the year before. 55 wins and the 3rd seed in the west is impressive. Also their offseason acquisitions of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson paired huge dividends.


  1. Washington Wizards!

Wow, these guys were fun and really impressed me. I thought the Wizards would be one of the million teams fighting for the eight spot in the east. Instead they claimed the fourth seed with 49 wins. What was most impressive was the improvement came from within. John Wall had a career year. Bradley Beal stayed healthy and also posted a career year. Otto Porter led the league in three-point percentage. Scott Brooks did a tremendous job in his first year in Washington. He instilled confidence, and got his team to play hard every night. This was the most impressive team in the east, and the future is bright in our nations capital.


  1. Los Angeles Clippers!

I mentioned this in the first paragraph, but I was one of the few who were impressed by the Clippers this year. They finished with 51 wins and home court advantage in the west, while dealing with injuries to their two main stars. Chris Paul missed 19 games, and Blake Griffin also missed 19 games. Each of them picked up the slack when the other was out. Not many teams can deal with injuries to their two best players and still win 51 games. Especially a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth like the Clippers. Doc Rivers did a good job holding this team together. The Clippers also boasted the fourth best offense in the league.


  1. Atlanta Hawks!

Another surprise on the list. However, the Hawks are like the Clippers. They dealt with an injury to their best player in Paul Millsap. Millsap missed 13 games this season and obviously the Hawks struggled. However, they still posted 43 wins, good for fifth in the east. Coach Mike Budenhozier did a great job holding this team together, and getting the most out of his players. Tim Hardaway and Dennis Schröder has career years. He also helped rookie Taurean Prince grow into a promising player. With a limited roster and injuries, the Hawks impressed.


Teams That Disappointed!

  1. 1.Minnesota Timberwolves!

I know too much wasn’t expected out of the young Wolves, but they should have been better than they were. Minnesota only had 31 wins, and I thought they had the talent to be in the 35-40 range. What was most disappointing was their defense, especially under defensive guru Tom Thibodeau. Too many times their effort on that end was simply lacking. The young Wolves finished 26th in the league in defense. They’re young and they will get better, but this year, their effort and their inability to finish games was disappointing.


  1. Detroit Pistons! 

Detroit was incredibly disappointing. This team made the playoffs last year and looked ready to take the next step. Instead they finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs. Several of their players took steps in the wrong directions. Reggie Jackson got hurt, and when he came back he was awful. Jackson even got benched for Ish Smith at one point. Andre Drummond had a poor season, and too many times, his effort left a lot to be desired. While Marcus Morris and Kentavious Caldwell Pope had solid seasons, it wasn’t enough. The Pistonts’ offense was incredibly disappointing, finishing 25th in the league. They have a lot more talent than their record showed. Disappointing for a team coached by Stan Van Gundy.


  1. Orlando Magic! 

Like Minnesota people did not expect much from the Magic. I thought they would be a little better though. Orlando finished with 29 wins, and I thought they could have been in the 35 range. What was most disappointing was the decisions made by Frank Vogel. First he started Aaron Gordon at small forward, which is not his natural position, then he benched Elfrid Payton for DJ Augustin for weeks, for reasons I still do not understand. The misuse of their players, while not developing their young players was disappointing. Orlando could have taken a step forward this year, but instead they took another step back.


  1. Brooklyn Nets!

Now, no one was expecting anything from these guys, but they were still disappointing. Brooklyn finished with 20 wins, I thought they could get 25-30. They maybe could have, if they hadn’t rested key players in some games. Brooklyn’s first round pick was Boston’s, but still decided to rest. That alone makes them a disappointing team. Their inability to develop young players, and play with a great competitive spirit is disappointing. Expect this team to be on this list for a while.


  1. Sacramento Kings! 

This team is disappointing for the moves they made. Trading Demarcus Cousins to New Orleans, when they could have gotten a better deal is disappointing and speaks for the franchise as a whole. They could have gotten more for Cousins, or simply, they could have kept him, trying to grow around him. Like Orlando and Brooklyn they showed inability to develop young players. It took way too long for them to start playing their young guys. Their lack of self-awareness of where they are is disappointing.


  1. Phoenix Suns!

Phoenix is like Brooklyn. They started tanking ridiculous early. This led to a 17 game losing streak. I understand tanking, but their lack of effort was consistently underwhelming. Also Eric Bledsoe was averaging 20 and 6, and they benched him to tank. Why not play him and get his trade value up. Same with Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight. Now the Suns can end up being stuck with all of them. Their lack of strategy and an overall game plan, doomed their season. Beside Devin Booker, they have been unable to develop any of their young players. Also they should have gotten more for P.J Tucker at the deadline. So many poor decisions made the Suns a disappointing team.


  1. Charlotte Hornets!

Last year, this team won 48 games and went to the playoffs. This year, they won 36 games, missing the playoffs. Their inability to close games was very troubling. They finished 0-9 in close games. That was the difference between them making the playoffs or not. Their point differential was better than three playoff teams’, but it didn’t matter. Late game execution was a problem they could not solve all season. Also the trade to get Miles Plumlee before the deadline was awful. Charlotte made poor decisions before the season by adding Ramon Sessions and Marco Bellinelli. Overall it led to a disappointing season that set the franchise back.


Teams Who Were What We Thought They Were!

  1. 1.Golden State Warriors!

67 wins, best offense, second best defense and an NBA championship. The Warriors were as great as we thought they would be. Kevin Durant fit in seamlessly with the unselfish Warriors. A 16-1 playoff run put them as one of the best teams to ever play. Love or hate them, they were amazing to watch. This is a team that will be a championship favorite for years to come. They beat teams by an average of 11.6 points per game which is simply insane.


  1. Utah Jazz! 

I was close to putting the Jazz on the impressed list, but I expected a lot out of them this year. They did not disappoint. Gordon Hayward emerged as an All-Star. Rudy Gobert emerged as a defensive player of the year candidate. The team ended up with 51 wins and the fifth seed in the west, and they won a playoff series. I picked this team to emerge and they did not disappoint. If they keep Hayward this team has a bright future.


  1. Oklahoma City Thunder!

They lost Kevin Durant, the second best player in the world in the offseason. Everyone thought the Thunder would slip and they did. OKC finished with 47 wins and the sixth seed in the west. They lost in five to Houston in the first round. We all knew Russell Westbrook would put up video game numbers, but we all knew that it wasn’t enough. This years’ Thunder were the definition of “They were who we thought they were”.


  1. Portland Trailblazers! 

I was close putting them on the disappointing list, but in the end they ended up where they were supposed to be. Portland was coming off a trip to the second round. However, I thought that was fools gold, because they only won 44 games, and only won a playoff series due to injury. They started poorly, and partly due to the bad acquisition of Evan Turner. However, they made up for it by trading for Jusef Nurkic. Nurkic improved the Blazers, but it was too late. The poor start combined with the strong finish, put the Blazers where they were supposed to be, which is an eight seed in the west.


  1. Denver Nuggets!

Like the Thunder, the Nuggets were exactly where I thought they would end up. This is a young team with some solid talent, but is still missing too many pieces to be a playoff team. That is how you end up with 40 wins. However, there were more bright spots than bad ones for the Nuggets. The emergence of Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris is huge for the franchise. For Denver, the future is bright.


  1. Memphis Grizzlies!

This team was close to being on the impressed list. Memphis dealt with several injuries including Mike Conley’s, and still made the playoffs, taking the Spurs to six games in their series. However, we expect this team to make the playoffs every year, they have made it for the 7th straight year now. With 43 wins, I thought they slightly over performed, if we include their injury problems. They over performed due to career years from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. In the end the result was what we expected, as usual for this team.


  1. New Orleans Pelicans! 

An interesting season for the Pelicans. They made a shocking trade to get DeMarcus Cousins at the deadline. In the end they ended up where they were supposed to be. Jrue Holiday missed a lot of games early, which led to a horrible start. Then he came back, and they improved. The adjustment to Cousins was tough, and the results weren’t great. With all he up and down the Pelicans ended up with 34 wins. It will be interesting to see how the Davis and Cousins combo plays out next year (If they stay together).


  1. Dallas Mavericks!

The Mavericks had very little talent this year, but Rick Carlisle did a great job of getting the most out of his players. That leads to 34 wins. JJ Barea got hurt, Dirk is old, and Andrew Bogut only lasted a few months. On the bright side Harrison Barnes had a career year, and Wesley Matthews rebounded from a serious injury. I also loved the addition of Nerlens Noel at the deadline. This is a team with an unclear direction, but we know Rick Carlisle will always get the most out of his squad.


  1. Los Angeles Lakers!

We all knew they would be terrible, and guess what, they were terrible. 26 wins was the final result, right where they were supposed to be. They are one of the youngest teams in the league, and from young teams you mostly get bad defense. In fact you get the worst defensive team in the league, and one of the worst in NBA history. They have the second overall pick, but they are a long way from turning it around.


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers!

I thought they would be a little better in the regular season. Instead they chose to rest more, and play lazy defense. That cost them the number one seed, not that it mattered. I expect them to continue to rest, and that will cost them some wins, but it’s worth it in the long run. It will be interesting to see what moves they’ll be making in order to try closing the gap to the Warriors.


  1. Toronto Raptors!

Toronto was actually slightly better than I thought they would be. Thanks to the midseason additions of Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. Unfortunately once they got there, Kyle Lowry got hurt, so it kind of evened out. I respected the Raptors for going all in, even though it ended up horribly as they got swept by Cleveland in the second round. With Ibaka and Lowry both being free agents, the Raptors are facing a crucial offseason.


  1. Boston Celtics!

I was close to putting them on the impressed list because they won 53 games and got the 1 seed. However, with the addition of Al Horford, we knew they would improve. Isaiah Thomas has emerged as one of the best scorers in the league, and Brad Stevens cemented himself as one of the best coaches in the league. With lots of picks and young assets, the Celtics are the team to watch this offseason.


  1. Milwaukee Bucks!

Like Toronto, Milwaukee had an up and down year that in the end resulted in them being where they were supposed to be. Khris Middleton missed most of the year, but once he came back the Bucks improved. The loss of Jabari Parker did actually help their defense. They ended up with 42 wins and the sixth seed in the east. Even though they had a predictable season, they planted the seeds for a bright future. A core of Giannis, Middleton, Maker and Brogdon should be formidable for years to come.


  1. Indiana Pacers! 

The Indian Pacers are super average. Average on offense and average on defense. Some people thought the additions of Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young would improve the Pacers more, but I was skeptical. Neither could one can really shoot, leading to cramped spacing. Paul George carried this team, and now he may be gone, so this franchise could be heading in the wrong direction quickly.


  1. Miami Heat!

This shocks everyone. How could you not put them on the impressed list? They started 11-30 and ended up 41-41. Of course that run was impressive. However, I figured the Heat would be around 38 wins. So in the end they only slightly impressed. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside had borderline All-Star years. Like Dallas, Miami always gets the most out of their role players. Combine the bad start with the strong finish, and you end up where you’re supposed to be.


  1. Chicago Bulls! 

Ugh, I hated the Bulls’ offseason moves. Getting Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo made no sense for me. I figured they would be one of the teams fighting for the eight seed and they were. They actually got the eighth seed. Chicago is a team that doesn’t know what direction it wants to go. In the middle of competing and rebuilding. When that happens you get an average team. Which is exactly what Chicago was at 41-41.


  1. New York Knicks!

Like the Bulls, I hated the Knicks’ offseason moves. They got Derrick Rose and Joakhim Noah from the Bulls. Two players who are injury prone and therefore past their primes. Of course both of them got injured and especially Noah underperformed massively. Combine that with the Melo/Phil Jackson drama, and a Kristaps Porzingis injury and you get 31 wins. This team was close to being on the disappointing list, but none of us should be have been too surprised.


  1. Philadelphia 76ers! 

Trust the Process! This team was very close to being on the impressed list, but unfortunately Joel Embiid got hurt. When he was playing this team was hot. They probably would have made the playoffs with him. His development combined with Dario Saric’s is very exciting. However, since he got hurt they finished with 28 wins, which is right around where I thought they would be. Brighter days are ahead, Philly fans!



As you can see, an NBA season can be fairly predictable. 18 of the 30 teams ended up right around where I thought they would be. However, the few exisitng surprises and disappointments offer enough intrigue. Those teams alone start enough drama to provide such intrigue. We may know how it ends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the journey!


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