Trades top surprises of 2010-11 NBA season

Did you think the washed-up San Antonio Spurs were going to get off to a 25-3 start and earn the league’s best regular-season record? Sure you knew Blake Griffin(notes) was going to come back after spending his rookie season rehabbing and make the other franchise in Los Angeles actually relevant? And what did you make of L.A.’s other team – no, not the Lakers, but the soon-to-be Los Angeles Royals of Anaheim (or something like that)?

When the NBA season started back in November, we thought we knew how it was going to unfold: The Lakers were going to win, coast and win, and coast some more until playoff time. The three-headed monster Heat were going to take some time to gel, and then get going. Rajon Rondo(notes) would have a breakout year and carry the aging Celtics through rough patches.

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Slideshow: The top 10 surprises of the NBA season

All of those sort of happened, but there were many other developments that completely blew us away. Consider Kendrick Perkins(notes), whose absence in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year probably cost the Celtics championship banner No. 18. He was supposed to anchor Boston’s defense in their upcoming playoff tussles with Miami and Orlando. But on the day of the trade deadline, Perkins was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Poof. Just like that, the Celtics’ championship hopes are all but extinguished. On the other hand, the Thunder have now emerged as the team best positioned to dethrone the two-time champion Lakers in the West, as they now have a bona fide inside presence to contend with L.A.’s big men.

No one saw that coming (except Danny Ainge, of course), but that one single transaction may have dramatically tipped the balance of power in both conferences. But that hardly qualified as the most dramatic trade of the season. OK, maybe we all knew Carmelo Anthony(notes) was going to leave Denver. But Deron Williams(notes) moving? And that he’d be sent packing from Utah just a few days after his coach Jerry Sloan abruptly got up and quit?

And what of Reggie Miller getting denied entry to the Basketball Hall of Fame while Dennis Rodman was let in? Or Kevin Love(notes) going on a double-double spree for a woeful team that had little to look forward to?

But the Timberwolves’ problems were nothing compared to the now LeBronless Cleveland Cavaliers, who really showed him how much they didn’t miss him by, er, losing 26 games in a row.

If you saw all those things comin’, you must’ve also picked VCU in the Final Four and Charl Schwartzel as the Masters winner. Nah, we don’t believe you, that’s why you should check out our top 10 surprises of the 2010-11 NBA season:

The list:

1. Jersey trading: Nets stun league with deal for Deron Williams
2. CarMeloDrama: Knicks, eventually, land Carmelo Anthony
3. Rose in bloom: Derrick Rose dominates MVP conversation
4. Spurred to success: San Antonio rolls to top seed in Western Conference
5. Blake effect: Blake Griffin shatters high expectations
6. Collins to the rescue: Philadelphia digs Doug
7. LeBronless losers in Cleveland: Cavs streak the wrong direction
8. Double (double) shot of Love: Kevin Love’s streak of big numbers
9. The banished Kings: Sadness in Sacramento
10. Mecca of basketball is back: Knicks finally return to playoffs

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011