Skip to main content

The most surprising teams in the NBA this season revealed — both good and bad

The L.A. Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets have been disappointing but the next most underachieving team might surprise you.
Rick Carlisle and the Indiana Pacers frustrated, while Evan Mobley and Jarret Allen from the Cleveland Cavaliers are happy

Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers

"Most surprising" can mean many things - both good and bad. In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers are at the top and bottom of the most surprising teams list for different reasons.

Overachieving squad

The Cleveland Cavaliers came out as the most surprising team in the NBA this season. They exceeded the modest expectations set for them in the summer and proved they were ready and committed to winning.

The Cavs received 27.5 projected wins from Vegas Projections, while their current pace is 47.39. The difference of 19.89 bested 2nd placer Phoenix Suns with a difference of 13.85 and Memphis Grizzlies’ 13.19.

The caveat on the top three teams would have to be the Suns, who were last year’s finalists. Meanwhile, the Cavs were not supposed to be this good, especially with personnel changes and injuries to key players -- Collin Sexton’s return from injury remains uncertain, while Ricky Rubio got traded mid-season. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Cleveland is supposed to be learning how to play together and not become contenders this season. Instead, they are sitting in 6th place with a 37-27 record. If they can keep this up, other teams need to worry about them next year, when they get all the players healthy.

Underachieving squad

Meanwhile, we have the usual suspects Brooklyn Nets and the L.A. Lakers, at the bottom on the other end of surprising teams that are borderline disappointing. Next up is Indiana Pacers, to the surprise of many.

Examining the roster changes gives us a glimpse of worse than expected performance projection for the Indiana Pacers. The 2021-22 season was projected to be the year that the core consisting of Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, and Myles Turner would learn how to play and win together. 

They also hired a veteran coach with championship experience in Rick Carlisle, who transformed the Dallas Mavericks into one of the best offensive teams in NBA history. Instead, they retooled mid-season, signed Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton, and let go of Sabonis, who was having another All-Star level year. It was a strange move by the front office, which only added to an already disappointing season for the Pacers.

Meanwhile, the Nets and Lakers have been awful and disappointing, to say the least. These two teams were projected to meet in the finals instead of scrambling to make the playoffs. As a result, fans will never have the luxury of seeing Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving versus LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook in the Finals.

The Pacers, Lakers, and Nets still have a chance to turn things around, but time is not on their side. So it will be an interesting race to the playoffs to see which teams could pull off some surprises. 

Willy Hernangomez says Zion Williamson is on a mission this season

Willy Hernangomez offers a frightening take on Zion Williamson ahead of this season -“He wants to destroy everybody”

Hernangomez said Williamson "wants to destroy everybody" in his return to the court after missing the entire 2021-22 season

James Harden said that his explosiveness is getting there after it was noticeably absent during his stint with the Sixers last season

James Harden and his quest to regain his explosiveness for the Philadelphia 76ers: "It's getting there"

Harden clearly wasn't himself during his first few months with the 76ers, but the good news is that he believes his explosiveness is getting back to what it used to be

Dirk Nowitzki at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit

"Between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room" - Dirk Nowitzki used to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany's junior national team

Dirk Nowitzki revealed that he had to bring a private tutor with him during his days with Germany's junior national team as he had to play and study at the same time.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson

"Are you willing to come back and be a coachable player?"-How Phil Jackson talked to Kobe Bryant before they reunited in 2006

The time Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson spent apart from each other made them realize that they needed each other to accomplish their goals.

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky outearns several NBA players

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky is closer to making a million each year than some NBA players on minimum contracts.

ben-wallace-darvin-ham-min

“I know he’s a great locker room guy!”- Ben Wallace believes Darvin Ham will do great things with the Lakers

Darvin Ham and Ben Wallace won a title together and their bond will forever remain tight.