The annual NBA GM survey put together by the league's media arm is a funny thing. On the one hand, these are the most important decision-makers in the NBA. The fates of teams and players lay in their hands! These are the 30 men who determine who is the No. 1 pick and who is undrafted, who makes $19 million a year and who makes $4 million a year and who gets traded and who gets cut. They control the NBA D-League via the shadows. They hold the fates of 30 head coaches and hundreds of assistants in their hands. They run the NBA. This is a wonderful window into their collective mindset.
Or, they pass off the survey to a 14-year-old ball boy, who fills it out. Less paperwork and a cheap thrill for a kid? Win, win.
The likelihood that the very busy general managers don't all take time to fully consider this harmless task is high. But that doesn't mean that we should avoid breaking it down in ridiculous fashion!
Below, we snip out the best responses to the survey for comment. Be sure to head and check out the full shebang at NBA.com.
GMs picked the championship, conference and division winners. Of 27 respondents to these questions, 20 picked the Miami Heat as the eventual champ ... and 26 picked them to win the East. I know Miami beat up the Bulls a year ago. You know Miami beat up the Bulls a year ago. But 26 of 27 GMs think the Heat will do it again, and of those 20 think Miami goes on to win the title. That's just incredible.
If there's any consolation for the other squads, 63 percent of the GMs who voted last year picked the Lakers to win it all, and all but one picked L.A. to come out of the West. Oops.
The Celtics received three times as many votes as Philadelphia as the Atlantic champs. Oops!
We discussed the MVP vote and Deron Williams' abduction on Tuesday, but there's some more grist here.
One of the questions asks GMs with whom they would start a franchise. Most of the responses are reasonable: LeBron James and Kevin Durant tied for No. 1 with 37 percent apiece, and Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard each received multiple votes. But one GM -- one man who runs an NBA franchise -- picked ... 30-year-old Dwyane Wade.
Wade's awesome, one of the best in the league. But he's 30 and far more brittle than most 30-year-old players. Did Isiah Thomas get a ballot?
A question on which player will break out this season earned one "Kevin Love" response, as if averaging Moses Malone numbers and making an All-Star team hadn't sufficiently served notice on the world last season.
Carmelo Anthony received a vote for best small forward in the league. LeBron and Durant are small forwards. This does not compute.
Oh wait! Durant scored two votes for best power forward. Yes, two NBA GMs voted Kevin Durant as the best power forward in the NBA. Kevin Durant played 86 percent of his minutes last season at small forward, and most of those sparse power forward minutes came before the Kendrick Perkins trade and extension. This does not compute.
One NBA GM almost assuredly determined that Kevin Durant was the league's best power forward despite Kevin Durant not being a power forward at all, then decided that Carmelo Anthony is better than LeBron James. This man who apparently made these decisions on an admittedly harmless ballot runs an NBA team. He may run your NBA team. It's time to put the cash under the mattress.
One GM voted Pau Gasol over Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA. This isn't a Durant situation, because as Andrew Bynum's knees are as brittle as the bark of a sassafras tree, Gasol gets in plenty of center minutes. But Gasol is not as good as Howard. It's not close. Someone just didn't want to vote for Howard. Probably Gar Forman, miffed that Dwight has no interest in joining the Bulls.
ON OFFSEASON MOVES
GMs were asked which team made the best offseason moves. One GM voted for Atlanta. Here are the Hawks' offseason moves:
1. Sign Tracy McGrady.
2. Sign Vlad Radmanovic.
3. Sign Willie Green
THE NEW BIG THREE.
In response to a question about the most surprising move of the offseason, "the end of the lockout" earned one completely honest or totally sarcastic response.
ON ROOKIES AND INTERNATIONALS
There's a standard Rookie of the Year question, and then a question on which rookie will be the best player in five years. For the latter, each of Alec Burks and Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz earned a vote. How did Kevin O'Connor turn one vote into two votes, and how do we steal this superpower before November?
In the vote on "sleeper" rookies, No. 5 pick Jonas Valanciunas picked up a vote, and No. 9 pick Kemba Walker picked up multiple votes. What, no one thinks Kyrie Irving will sneak into the R.O.Y. conversation?
Someone showed their hand on the "best international outside the NBA" question! Valanciunas, Juan Carlos Navarro and Andrei Kirilenko -- well-known entities all -- earned all but three votes. One other vote went to well-known Serb veteran Milos Teodosic. Mirza Teletovic earned one vote and fits the same profile: he's a name familiar to many NBA fans. But the final vote went to a fellow named Furkan Aldemir. At first, I thought I recognized the name "Furkan Aldemir" from the Tolkein canon, but that's not right. There aren't any ys in "Furkan Aldemir." Were it "Furkan Aldymyr" we'd be on the right track, but no.
So who is this "Furkan Aldemir" that one NBA GM considers to be the best international basketball player on the Earth who does not play in the NBA? Only the next Omer Asik, duh!
Even NBA GMs have drank the Kobe Bryant defense Kool-Aid, as he received enough votes to get into a tie for third in the best perimeter defender category. He finished ahead of Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala (zero votes). What the what?
On the question of which head coach runs the best offense, Mike Brown earned two votes. Is this life?
Twelve different assistant coaches earned a vote for best in the league. P.J. Carlesimo and Terry Stotts are among them. Alright!
Mike Bibby earned a vote as the current player most likely to make a good head coach. This GM has almost assuredly never had Mike Bibby on one of his teams.
ON OTHER STUFF
The responses to the nebulous question on which players "do the most with the least" are amazing. Over time, this phrase in NBA parlance has come to mean "which white, scruffy or fat player is actually good?" It is no surprise, then, that Kevin Love -- who last season fit all three definitions -- won the category. Luis Scola (scruffy) came in No. 2. Brian Cardinal (white), Glen Davis (fat), Raymond Felton (fat) and Landry Fields (white) received a vote each, as did -- and this is a little weird -- Andrea Bargnani (white, scruffy, not nearly fat but not exactly Shawn Bradley or Dwight Howard). Has anyone ever looked at Bargnani and said, "Man, I just don't know how that 7-footer with skills is in the NBA?!" The same question applies to the vote cast for Dwight Howard. They may have read the question backwards.
Chris Paul and Reggie Evans, two noted cuppers, each received votes for toughest players in the NBA. I think that they should be forced to pass their votes to Julius Hodge and Chris Kaman. LeBron James also received a vote, which is news to everyone who commented on SBNation.com's Facebook page circa June 2011.
Ron Artest won this category (toughest player) last season, and didn't receive a single vote this year. It's amazing what going on Dancing With The Stars and changing your name to something like a Beginner's Zen message board handle will do to your cred among NBA GMs.
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