NBA GM Survey: Who’s The Best Of The Best?

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We hear it all the time: LeBron James is still the best player in the league; Kevin Durant’s a shoo-in for MVP; this year’s Cavaliers are going all the way. In sports, everybody’s got their own opinion, from the fans in the bleachers to the players in the locker rooms. Some opinions, of course, are a little more impactful than others. Every year, NBA.com asks the guys in charge—the ones who really know what’s going on, the general managers—about their own thoughts regarding the state of the association. For the purposes of NBA.com’s survey, GMs were not allowed to vote for their own players in any of the categories, providing us a frank picture of how the NBA’s biggest insiders rank their most powerful teams and players.
 
 

Predicted winners
The 2014-15 NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs, 46.2 per cent
Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland Cavaliers, 70.4 per cent
Western Conference finals: San Antonio Spurs, 55.6 per cent
2014-15 MVP: LeBron James, 67.9 per cent
2014-15 Rookie of the Year: Jabari Parker, 75.0 per cent

The takeaway: The San Antonio Spurs stand to take Finals again with their entire main lineup returning for another year, making for an exciting season with a chance of a repeat win. The addition of LeBron James will help turn around the Cavaliers’ dubious record of 33 wins last year, almost certainly placing the team on top of an Eastern Conference that’s gotten several degrees tougher in a single season, as well as casting them as San Antonio’s playoffs rivals. Cleveland’s relative inexperience in playoffs will prove a challenge for the team, however. For James’ efforts—and likely an insanely entertaining season—we can expect The King to take home an MVP, an honour he’s earned four times so far.

The best lineup
Best point guard: Chris Paul, 71.4 per cent
Best shooting guard: James Harden, 63.0 per cent
Best small forward: LeBron James, 75 per cent
Best power forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, 25 per cent
Best centre: Dwight Howard, 42.9 per cent

The takeaway: Chris Paul received votes in several categories, including those for next year’s MVP, best future coach, best leader, best basketball IQ, best passer and even toughest player. He only placed at the top of a handful, but only LeBron James received as many category nominations.

The standouts
The most-desired player: LeBron James, 50.0 per cent
The best player acquisition: LeBron James, 96.3 per cent
Most underrated player acquisition: Tyson Chandler, 17.9 per cent
The best international player: Dirk Nowitzki, 53.6 per cent
Which rookie might be the NBA’s best player in five years: Jabari Parker, 35.7 per cent

The takeaway: Looks like the fans and the GMs see eye-to-eye on at least one thing: LeBron James is one of the most important players in the league right now—then again, anyone thinking to the contrary must be living under a rock. His acquisition by the Cleveland Cavaliers has almost single-handedly made the Eastern Conference the toughest it has been in years, and the trade has rightfully been identified as one of the most wildly-successful deals in recent memory. Interestingly, Jabari Parker was elected the likeliest of rookies to one day fill The King’s shoes. As it stands in pre-season, the Milwaukee Bucks’ star prospect and this year’s second overall pick is already playing an average of 31 minutes, with a 41.1 per cent field goal percentage and an average of 5.71 points per game. His talent renders him a standout player who is also predicted to win this year’s Rookie of the Year.

The teams
Most fun to watch: Golden State Warriors, 57.1 per cent
Best home-court advantage: Oklahoma City Thunder, 42.9 per cent
Most improved team: Cleveland Cavaliers, 75 per cent

The takeaway: Perhaps at odds with the amazing show everyone’s predicting in the Eastern Conference—cough, Cavaliers, cough—and even the Spurs’ performance in the west, the GMs said that the Golden State Warriors stand to be this year’s most entertaining team, and for good reason. The offensive duo of Steph Curry (voted the best pure shooter in the league) and Klay Thompson will make any game the Warriors play more fun than than any other, at least point-for-point. OKC, on the other hand, is going to put up a fight of epic proportions on their home turf after narrowly missing out on a Finals berth after losing to the Spurs in the third round last year.

For the full list of categories and players who received votes, check out NBA.com’s survey right here.

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