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With roughly three weeks left in the 2023-24 NBA regular season, we've seen enough to determine which teams have under- and over-performed relative to their preseason expectations. Last week we looked at the underachievers, a dubious list led by the Atlanta Hawks, who have been the definition of a colossal disappointment. 

This week, we take a look at the five biggest overachievers, leading with a team that has gone from 40 wins last season to the brink of a No. 1 seed. 

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Nearly everyone pegged the Thunder as a good team this season. But not this good. Oklahoma City, which was slotted in Vegas for roughly 44 wins, is neck-and-neck with Denver for the West's top seed on a 57-win pace. 

OKC has all the markings of a legit contender. It has an MVP-level superstar in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who can create offense across the full spectrum of convention, another isolation beast in Jalen Williams, a stretch five in Chet Holmgren, who's also an elite rim protector and two perimeter defensive bricks in Williams and Lu Dort, shooting across the board. Cohesion, confidence and two-way versatility are all present ... shall I go on?

It's important to note that all of this exists, despite the Thunder qualifying as the second-youngest roster in the league. Again, nobody was sleeping on the Thunder this season. Everyone thought they had a chance to be good. But not this good. 

2. Orlando Magic

If you say you had Orlando anywhere near a top-four seed to start the season, you're a liar. The Magic were projected for 37.5 wins and they're at 42 with three weeks to play behind a top-five defense and an offense that lives in the paint and at the free-throw line. Fifty wins is in play, which would be incredible. 

What makes the Magic unique? They effectively deploy a pair of 6-foot-10 point guards in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, who initiate Orlando's outside-in attack. Wagner creates points from the paint either for himself or a teammate at a rate comparable to De'Aaron Fox

Banchero is one of just eight players averaging at least 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, and since Jan. 1, he's knocking down his 3s at a 37% clip. 

Paolo Banchero has been a key piece in Orlando's rise. Getty Images

Everyone liked the future of Orlando because of those two guys, but certainly not this early. More so, Banchero and Wagner are not alone. Jonathan Isaac might be a top-five defender in the league. Jalen Suggs, an absolute demon on the ball, isn't far off, either, and he's quietly shooting 40% from 3-point land on over five attempts per game. 

Wendell Carter JrMoe WagnerGary Harris and Cole Anthony round out Orlando's cast. It has gotten good enough to potentially have outgrown Markelle Fultz as a necessary player. That tells you a lot, because Fultz is a solid rotational piece for a team trying to steady its foundation for growth. The growth has just happened sooner than we expected. 

The Magic, who have won seven of their past 10 and are 12-4 since the All-Star break, are teeter-tottering with the Knicks for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and are going to be a massive headache in the playoffs. It's not exactly what the experts were predicting in October. 

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

In its first-round loss to the eventual champions Nuggets last season, Minnesota entered the fourth quarter either tied or with the lead in three of the five games. The Timberwolves were game, and they had a chance coming into this season to make some noise depending on the expected ascent of Anthony Edwards, mostly, and whether Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns could make it work together. 

Edwards is likely going to make second-team All-NBA, and lineups featuring both Gobert and Towns have outscored opponents by almost 10 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass, up from plus-0.9 last year. 

Rudy Gobert is a near-lock for his fourth DPOY award. Getty Images

Minnesota was a good defense last season, No. 8 overall by CTG's ratings. This year it's the best in the league, allowing almost five points fewer per 100. Gobert is likely going to win DPOY, his fourth all-time. Minnesota's perimeter guys are, dare I say, a rabid pack of defensive Wolves, led by Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Elsewhere, Mike Conley remains the portrait of his steady reputation, while Naz Reid is one of the best bench guys across the entire league and keeps the Wolves huge across multiple lineups. 

This is a similar situation to the Thunder. We knew the Wolves could be good, but there's no way anyone had them being this good. Vegas set their over-under win total at 44.5. They're on pace for 57 and have all but locked up at least the No. 3 seed in the West. 

4. Indiana Pacers

When the Pacers' over-under win total came out at 38.5, I jumped on it. I also jumped on the Hawks at 42.5, so I'm not claiming to be great at this, but barring major injury, this Pacers line was egregiously low. Indiana is already at 41 wins and is pacing toward between 46-47. 

Entering play on Tuesday, Indiana is the East's No. 6 seed behind All-NBA candidate Tyrese Haliburton, who captains the league's second-ranked offense. Haliburton leads the league in assists per game and total points created via assist. Indiana is super balanced with eight guys averaging double-digit points. Pascal Siakam gives the Pacers the second 20-point scorer their hierarchy needed. 

For a while, the Pacers were looking like a 50-win team. They're only 16-15 since the Siakam trade, and Haliburton has cooled off from what started as a legit MVP-worthy campaign. Still, models had them as a borderline lottery team, even in the tank that is the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They've obviously been far better than that. 

5. Houston Rockets

Some might argue that the Rockets should be higher on this list. I debated not putting them on it at all. To me, Houston being a competitive .500 team (36-35 entering play on Tuesday) isn't all that surprising. After all, it brought in Ime Udoka to be its coach, along with Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to be exactly that. Put that kind of defensive trio alongside the young talent Houston harbors, and you're not going to be a pushover. 

Third-year big man Alperen Sengun was an absolute star this season before getting hurt. Getty Images

But what the Rockets are doing of late is more than anyone could've expected. They've won nine straight and 11 of their past 12, and are now officially crawling down Golden State's throat for the final Play-In Tournament spot. Vegas set Houston's over/under win total at 31.5, and now a low- to potentially even mid-40s win total is in play. 

Despite his recent injury, Alperen Sengun showed he is a star. Cam Whitmore was a steal. Jabari Smith is a two-way stud. Amen Thompson is making even me, a time-honored hater of non-shooters, a fan. Jalen Green is on a volcanic heater, putting up 28 PPG on a Steph Curry-like 61.3% true-shooting percentage while going from a potential trade candidate with a seemingly sixth-man future to what looks like a future franchise tentpole. 

Again, the veterans paired with Sengun were supposed to make this a competitive team. It's the play of the young guns, particularly Green and Smith, that qualifies the Rockets as ahead of schedule. 

If the Rockets do fight their way into the Play-In Tournament, don't sleep on their chances of fighting their way out of it, either.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league's biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.