5 NBA Teams That Started Well but Missed the Playoffs

A couple NBA teams had strong starts to the 2016–17 season. Examples include the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls. While the Spurs backed up their hot start, the Bulls did not suddenly transform into one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, they made it to the playoffs; something the Miami Heat missed altogether. Here are five past teams that got off to a great start but still missed the playoffs.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (200001)

5 NBA Teams That Started Well but Missed the Playoffs

Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard Andre Miller (R) drives against New Jersey Nets’ guard Jason Kidd | David Maxwell/AFP/Getty Images)

Just a few years prior to landing LeBron James in the NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a middling franchise struggling just to sneak into the postseason. In 199900, the Cavs were 32-50 behind diminished star Shawn Kemp and small forward Lamond Murray. But the following season, Kemp was gone and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas returned to the court after sitting out a full season with a foot injury. Point guard Andre Miller busted out, and the Cavs were off to a 15-7 start.

Unfortunately, Ilgauskas re-injured his foot after just 24 games and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. That, plus a normal regression, deeply affected the Cavs. After the hot start, the team went just 15-45 over the course of the regular season. That landed them the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, which they used on center DeSagana Diop. The silver lining: All the Cavaliers’ bad seasons helped them get LeBron and completely transform their future.