By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 24, 2014
There have been numerous disappointments throughout the 2013-14 NBA season, whether that’s injuries or unmet expectations. However, the season hasn’t been without its feel-good stories or players and teams that have blown us away with what they’ve been able to accomplish. Which players and teams have been the 10 biggest surprises (in a positive manner) this season?
The Charlotte Bobcats had won 28 games over the past two seasons combined coming into this year. With Al Jefferson and new head coach Steve Clifford in-tow, the Bobcats are now poised to make the postseason behind a completely turned-around defense. You probably expected Charlotte to get better, but this much better is quite impressive.
We’ve obviously known that Anthony Davis has had star-potential for quite a while now. However, not many people expected him to do what he’s done this year so quickly, namely in his second year. Davis is arguably already at a superstar level on both ends of the floor and has been one of the best watches in the NBA this season.
With a bit more firepower, people expected the Trail Blazers to improve this season. However, no one expected them to have the best record in the league for a while and (likely) make the postseason with relative ease. This team has struggled lately, but there’s no denying that they’ve gone way beyond what was expected of them in the preseason.
People most often discussed Monta Ellis as a punch-line than anything else coming into this season. With a Mavericks team possibly bound for the playoffs and under Rick Carlisle, Monta has been fantastic. His shot-selection and decision-making have improved tremendously and he legitimately has looked like a different player at times in comparison to recent years.
The popular thing to do with the Raptors was to write them off after the Rudy Gay trade. However, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had other plans as this team is set to have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve been one of the best stories to follow in the league this season, despite the odds seemingly being against them.
You could make the argument that Michael Carter-Williams benefits from playing a frenetic pace on an awful team. While that’s true, MCW has exceeded almost every pre-draft evaluation of him this season and has been one of the few bright spots on this abysmal 76ers team.
Derrick Rose went down again and you had to expect the Chicago Bulls to just crumble. That hasn’t happened, though. Joakim Noah has emerged as a top-five MVP candidate and arguably no team has fought harder to get where they are. This Bulls team is going to be a tough out in the postseason, even after being written off numerous times.
It’s weird to say that a star player has been surprising, but it’s not every day a star unexpectedly elevates his game to near superstar levels. That’s what Blake Griffin has accomplished this season. Griffin has improved all over the floor and has become a much more complete player. He’s been the catalyst for the Clippers’ run this season, silencing a number of critics.
The fact that Greg Oden is even on the floor for an NBA game is unbelievable given his history of knee injuries. Not only has he managed that, though, he’s now been in the Heat’s starting lineup and looks like he could be an integral part of their playoff-run. There’s been no better feel-good story this season than Oden.
The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be part of the tank-a-thon in the NBA this season, but are now vying for a spot in the postseason. Jeff Hornacek deserves to be Coach of the Year this season, Gerald Green has re-emerged as a playmaker and Goran Dragic has been unreal. Given what you thought of the Suns in the preseason, there’s no doubt that they’ve been the most surprising.
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