The NBA 2013-14 GM Survey Results Are In

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Like for any game of statistics, damned lies and statistics, predictions are the backbone of basketball analysis. Every year NBA.com gives the GMs of each team in the league a series of questions, the answers to which give fans some of the greatest insights into the upcoming season from the people closest to the action. However, they’re not alone: we’ve also made a few bold statements in the runup to the 2013-14 season. See for yourself how our predictions stack up against the big bosses’ in this year’s poll—just remember, they’re only predictions.
 

 

Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons
 

Which team will win the Eastern Conference?

Survey said:
1. Miami: 86.2%
2. Indiana: 10.3%
3. Chicago: 3.4%

We said: Miami Heat

They won it back in the 2012-13 season, and we’re saying that fans should be excited for a three-peat. The team sporting LeBron always has a shot. The biggest variable is if new guy Greg Oden can recover in time to protect the rim.
 

Which team will win the Western Conference?

Survey said:
1. San Antonio: 40.0%
2. Oklahoma City: 36.7%
3. L.A. Clippers: 20.0%
4. Houston: 3.3%

We said: San Antonio Spurs
Last year, they came in second with a 58-24 record. Although the ghost of last year’s Finals placement could be a detriment to the team’s play at the beginning of this season, we’re predicting Kawhi Leonard will become a new scoring option and that the team as a whole is well-rounded, despite an aging Manu Ginobli. However, we also predicted that Kevin Durant on OKC will be unleashing on the court this season, and with newly-returned Westbrook’s help, make them an offensive juggernaut. We can see why the GMs were a little split on this one.

Which team will win the Atlantic Division?

Survey said:
1. Brooklyn: 75.9%
2. New York: 24.1%

We said: Brooklyn Nets
We may have pegged them as 3rd in the Eastern Conference, but Brooklyn is destined to beat out the Atlantic Division for sure. Championship material is on the roster with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but they’re working with a poor core team. They’re also at the mercy of Jason Kidd’s rookie coaching. A high ceiling will lead them to some victories, but probably not an NBA title.

Which team will win the Central Division?

Survey said:
1. Indiana: 51.7%
2. Chicago: 48.3%

We said: Indiana Pacers
The GMs were fairly split on this one, and rightly so. Granger was out due to an injury, and we said that starting him now might destabilize a team that has grown in his absence. However, we still pegged Granger’s return as a big plus, making them an offensive threat, and also a contender for the Eastern Conference versus Miami. The close call between these guys and the Bulls probably has something to do with the return of Derrick Rose, something we predicted will make them a major contender this year (as long as it pans out). With that little bit of unsurety, the Pacers make a better candidate.

Which team will win the Southeast Division?

Survey said:
1. Miami : 100%

We said: Miami Heat
The GMs weren’t mincing words with this one, and neither were we. The three-peat contenders may be facing opponents who have grown a lot within this division, but as you can tell, the Heat are a shoo-in.

Which team will win the Southwest Divison?

Survey said:
1. San Antonio: 70.0%
2. Houston: 30.0%

We said: San Antonio Spurs
The Spur’s are facing a tighter racer for the Western Conference, but not so for the Southwest Divison. We said that the Rockets will be dealing with the after-effects of a potentially traumatic back surgery, which leads to some problems in their perimeter defence. The great shooters on the Spurs will likely outsmart them, despite Houston being a top contender for the division

Which team will win the Northwest Divison?

Survey said:
1. Oklahoma City: 96.6%
2. Denver: 3.4%

We said: Oklahoma City Thunder
The GMs think OKC is destined to beat out the rest of the Northwest Divison by a huge margin, and that’s what we’ve been saying for a while. There are too many variables to safely say they’ll beat out the Western Conference, but in the Northwest, Denver, their main contender, is reeling from losing its own GM, coach and best player. This should be enough to increase the chances for the Thunder, who can still expect to cruise on that Durant-Westbrook partnership.

Which team will win the Pacific Division?

Survey said:
1. L.A. Clippers: 89.7%
2. Golden State: 10.3%

We said: Los Angeles Clippers
This wasn’t the hardest call for the GMs, given that we’ve predicted a better backcourt game for the Clippers, and one good enough to make them Division champions. However, they leave a sizeable question mark with their free-throws and big man rotation, so we see how Golden State has a fighting chance. Our prediction for the Warriors says their offense has grown remarkably and may sport a comparable backcourt, but the team’s chemistry and a wing-heavy roster may result in a number two standing in this division.

Which player is most likely to have a breakout season 2013-14?

Survey said:
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans: 27.6%
2. Andre Drummond , Detroit: 10.3%
3. Derrick Favors, Utah; Paul George, Indiana; Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City: 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Bradley Beal, Washington; James Harden, Houston; Tobias Harris, Orlando; Gordon Hayward, Utah; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland; DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers; Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Kevin Love, Minnesota; Klay Thompson, Golden State; Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto; John Wall, Washington

We said:
Anthony Davis
Kemba Walker
Derrick Favors
Jimmy Butler
Eric Bledsoe

We can all see why Anthony Davis is ready to have a breakout season—we said it just might have something to do with his rookie season tempering his raw talent, plus adding a few extra pounds so that he can play with the big boys inside the paint—despite narrowly losing out Rookie of the Year to Damien Lillard. Favors was also in our top five for his good numbers, great potential and possibly moving ahead in the pecking order with the Jazz in rebuild mode.

However, we also thought Kemba Walker was up there for his 2012-13 season performance and a marked improvement over his rookie season (his shooting average spiked by six per cent and scoring went up by five points per game)—we see a trend in there, and one that will make the Bobcats at least a bit more watchable. Jimmy Butler also deserved recognition for playing an increased role on the Bull’s roster. Bledsoe, we said, is a player worthy of being the cornerstone of the Sun’s prayed-for rebuild, and his reliable shooting in- and outside the paint gives him some major star potential.

Who is the best point guard in the NBA?

Survey said:
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers: 70.0%
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago: 20.0%
3. Tony Parker, San Antonio: 10.0%

We said: Chris Paul (Honourable mentions: Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose)
The GM’s pick by a long shot was Chris Paul, something we definitely agree with, and an easy call at that. He’s been the best point guard for the last five or six seasons, and his P.E.R. is only exceeded by Kevin Durant and LeBron James. However, the large amount of raw talent in that position made Rose and Parker contenders, Rose most notably on the condition of making a successful return to the court.

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?

Survey said:
1. James Harden, Houston: 56.7%
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers: 20.0%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Paul George, Indiana: 6.7%
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami: 3.3%

We said: James Harden (Honourable mentions: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson)
The GMs voted with us on The Beard taking the top spot for best shooting guard. Despite his age, we’ve said Harden is a must-see talent, and one set to outdo Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade for the title they’ve been battling over the last eight seasons. An average of 24 points per game, four rebounds and nearly six assists make him a scoring machine, with possibly one of the best free throws in the game.

Who is the best small forward in the game?

Survey said:
1. LeBron James, Miami — 86.7%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 13.3%

We said: LeBron James (Honourable mentions: Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George)
We agreed with the GMs (it is a little obvious who takes the cake here), but we didn’t feel too good about it. Statistically, Durant can be considered one of the best in the game for his performance last year, and Anthony led the league in scoring as well. However, James’ shooting percentages are off the chart at 56 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from outside the arc, which helped lead the Heat to two championships. You don’t get credit for helping a potential three-peat happen and not get this title.

Who is the best power forward in the game?

Survey said:
1. Tim Duncan, San Antonio: 31.0%
2. Kevin Love, Minnesota: 27.6%
3. LeBron James, Miami: 13.8%
4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers: 6.9%

Also receiving votes: Chris Bosh, Miami; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas

We said: Kevin Love (Honourable mentions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan)
The GMs probably took note that Tim Duncan is still playing the position at All-Star levels despite his age, but we pegged Kevin Love as the titleist for the 4-spot given his all-around game (to their credit, it’s a bit of a toss-up). He is also boasting a new and improved 3-pointer, clocking in at 37 per cent from three seasons ago. The uncertainty, of course, are his defensive skills, but we respectfully disagree with the GMs’ pick, noting Love’s healthy rebounding skills.

Who is the best center in the NBA?

Survey said:
1. Dwight Howard, Houston: 65.5%
2. Marc Gasol, Memphis: 20.7%
3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio: 10.3%
4. Roy Hibbert, Indiana: 3.4%

We said: Dwight Howard (Honourable mentions: Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler)
Dwight Howard is the undisputed taker of this honour, which is made even more striking by his terrible season in 2012-13 (whereas Hibbert and Gasol performed well). However, with an average of 17.1 points per game, and 12.6 rebounds—with an injury—lead us to predict that his top performance in good health will be a sight to see.

The NBA.com 2013-14 GM Survey goes on from there, so if you’d like to see more predictions from the NBA’s top brass about the state of their league, head over here to see the full poll.

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