The NBA.com GM Survey is an annual compilation of 49 questions directed to a pool of league general managers about teams, players, coaches, fans and offseason moves. Now in its 17th year (yes, 17!), the survey sparks more interest than ever when it comes to predicting the upcoming season.
Feedback from GM’s is valuable. Their knowledge within the league is beyond that of any outside source. Additionally, the range of questions gives you a unique insight on what GM’s think of the league’s current state. Here are 10 takeaways from the survey.
1. Warriors expected to repeat
The defending back-to-back champs are the frontrunners once again to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. However, it’s not as clear-cut as last year. The Warriors were a 93-percent favorite in 2017-18 but are 87 heading into this season. Yes, teams are starting to figure them out, but the addition of DeMarcus Cousins completely changes whatever philosophy they have to dethrone Golden State. The Celtics are tied with the Rockets at 7 percent with the second best odds to win the 2019 Finals.
2. Celtics can boast about having best coach
After not receiving any votes last year, Boston’s Brad Stevens received 47 percent of the votes for the best coach heading into the season. Spurs’ Gregg Popovich ran away with it last season with 82 percent of the votes, but it was Stevens who beat San Antonio’s mastermind by 17 percent. The ability to lead a young, depleted team to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals solidified his prowess.
3. New team, same prediction of winning MVP
LeBron James, even with a brand new team and not being able to cakewalk all over the East, is the leader in odds of winning MVP at 30 percent. It’s a 20 percent drop from last year as Kevin Durant is trailing the King by 3 percent. KD noted regular season accolades are something he doesn’t expect to win — particularly Defensive Player of the Year — because of “pure hate,” however it seems GM’s are showing some love to Durant in the MVP category.
4. Playoff reseeding picking up steam
The Colorado Rockies completed a 162-game regular season on Sunday at home, played a tiebreaker game the following day in LA, went to Chicago for their Wild Card game the next day and begin a best-of-seven series in Milwaukee on Thursday. Where is this going? Well, to(o) many places — which is what the NBA would be facing if it converts to a 1-to-16 playoffs bracket based on overall record. A lot of traveling would be included, but with the NBA limiting the amounts of back-to-backs and dropping four games in five nights in the regular season, it’s less strenuous come playoff time. LeBron James’ dominance in the East is over, but the attention shifts to how the West continues to get better while the East will likely have a sub-.500 team get in the playoffs.
5. Greek Freak is the dream for every GM
If you were starting a franchise today, who would be your first pick if any player was on the table? Well, 30 percent of GM’s have Giannis Antetokounmpo as their top guy. The Greek Freak continues to take strides as long baseline to baseline ones. He beat out Anthony Davis by 7 percent and last year’s top vote-getter Karl Anthony-Towns, who received zero votes this time around.
6. Jamal Murray expected to breakout
Surprise, surprise: Jamal Murray is who 20 percent of GM’s expect to make the biggest jump this season. He doubles the amount of votes that were given to Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum. The Nuggets are coming off an impressive season as they fell just short of making the playoffs. Murray, who is just 21, is still coming into his own just like teammates Gary Harris, 24, and Nikola Jokic, 23, and that alone will get Denver over the hump. He improved his points per game average by nearly seven points from his rookie season to the second, and the scary part is this bucket-getter is just getting started.
7. Curry is the preeminent floor general
There are so many good points guards in the NBA. So many that Damian Lillard, John Wall and Kemba Walker didn’t even make the list. For the second year in a row, Stephen Curry holds the honors for best point guard. His 57-percent mark is a five-percent drop from last year, but still enough to lead runner-up Russell Westbrook by 40 percent (that will be a fun opening night debate). Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul come in tied at 10 percent apiece and James Harden rounds out the list. Harden is a unanimous selection for best shooting guard, but similarly, Curry makes an appearance in that category behind teammate Klay Thompson.
8. Lakers’ all-out summer gets positive outlook
Magic Johnson hit the jackpot this offseason by landing LeBron James. That alone was not enough, however. Yes, the Lakers’ braintrust wanted him paired with another star, but they spent the same amount in a one-year span for some “MUD” guys. Coined by James, the addition of Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee brings a “misunderstood, under-appreciated and determined” group together in LA. Showtime back?
9. Doncic will make immediate strides, differs long-term
The anticipated debut of former EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic is upon us. The 19-year-old phenom is destined to win Rookie of the Year according to 43 percent of GM’s. Where’s Deandre Ayton? Well, not second … or third. He comes in at fourth behind Marvin Bagley III and Wendall Carter Jr. However, Ayton is expected to be the best among his rookie class five years from now along with Jaren Jackson Jr. Like wine, their game will get better with time.
10. Chris Paul has coaching DNA
It’s unfortunate watching one of the league’s best point guards and leaders miss a ton of games, especially when it’s one game away from the NBA Finals. Even worse, the chances of Chris Paul winning a ring may not happen … well at least as a player. GM’s see his championship pedigree, which is why they believe he is the most capable active player to become a head coach someday. He beats out C.J. McCollum, Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo and Garrett Temple who received 7 percent of the votes apiece.