With the NBA concluding and the seeding of each team being confirmed, it’s now easier to identify the teams that were disappointing and the ones that were surprising. These five teams performed better than most believed they would, becoming the most surprising teams of the 2016-2017 season.

Denver Nuggets

Being in a semi-rebuilding process, the Denver Nuggets exceeded expectations by competing for a playoff spot throughout the entire year. Behind Nikola Jokic’s breakthrough sophomore year, the Nuggets fell one game out of the top eight. Even veteran players such as Danilo Gallinari, Jameer Nelson, and Wilson Chandler had solid seasons.

The Nuggets had one of the best offenses in the league, ranking third in points per game and fifth in offensive efficiency. Even though they missed the post-season, this was a significantly successful season since they are now way ahead of schedule in their rebuilding process.

Washington Wizards

We all knew that the Washington Wizards could have made the playoffs with a healthy roster and a new coaching staff in place. However, we probably did not expect them to be top four in the East. Under Scott Brooks’ coaching, John Wall and Bradley Beal were phenomenal throughout the year, pacing the Wizards to their first division title since 1979. What’s more impressive is that the Wizards won 49 games, the most since the 1975-76 season, after a slow 2-8 start to the year.

With chemistry being at its best, Washington was the fifth highest scoring team in the NBA. After missing the playoffs last year, the Wizards are suddenly a real threat in the Eastern Conference. What a way to bounce back from a lackluster season.

Miami Heat

After starting the season 11-30, the Miami Heat had a significant turnaround, finishing 30-11 in the final 41 games.

Although they had a similar record as the Chicago Bulls, the Heat, unfortunately, missed the playoffs because they did not own the tiebreaker. However, despite being the ninth seed, this young team overachieved and turned many heads. They played very hard as a unit to become playoff contenders, something that was not expected to happen so soon since they lost Dwyane Wade in the offseason.

Kudos to head coach Erick Spoelstra for maximizing his talent and almost leading the team to the playoffs.

Utah Jazz

After acquiring a handful of veterans during the offseason, most people expected the Utah Jazz to make the playoffs. Not only did Utah make the playoffs, but they shattered expectations by tying for the fourth best record in the tough West. Furthermore, they were the third best defensive team in the league thanks to Rudy Gobert’s length and athleticism in the paint. After falling short of a playoff spot last season, they became an intimidating Western Conference for this year, which was far beyond anyone’s beliefs.

Milwaukee Bucks

Two years ago the Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs with a 41-41 record, landing the sixth seed.

Everyone thought that they were a young team ready to take off, but they deteriorated last season, placing 12th in the East with a horrible 33-49 record. This season the Bucks redeemed themselves by landing the sixth seed once again, mostly due to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s enormous growth. ‘The Greek Freak’ developed into a star and led the young Bucks all season with his all-around play. In fact, he led the team in every single category (points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks). Believed to miss the playoffs again, it’s safe to say that the Bucks shocked many people with their 42-40 winning record, advancing to the post-season.

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