Every year, the NBA releases the results of a survey given to each of the league's 30 general managers. It's a sign that the regular season is just around the corner and an accurate snapshot of conventional basketball wisdom. This year, GMs have overwhelmingly picked LeBron James and the Miami Heat to dominate for the third straight year.
The Heat were picked to win the East by 86.2 percent of voters and picked as the eventual champions by 75.9 percent of them. James bested Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant 69 percent to 24.1 percent in MVP predictions and 89.7 percent to 6.9 percent on the "if you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?" question. The full results of the survey can be seen at NBA.com.
The general managers think the San Antonio Spurs (40 percent) and the Thunder (36.7 percent) have the best chances to come out of the West, while Indiana and Chicago were the only Eastern Conference teams anyone picked to potentially upset the Heat and make it to the Finals. Sorry, Brooklyn.
Most of the predictions, like those above, will not surprise you. Victor Oladipo got the nod for most likely to win Rookie of the Year, receiving 80 percent of the votes. Anthony Davis (27.6 percent) and Andre Drummond (10.3 percent) are seen as the most likely players to have a breakout season. Gregg Popovich was at the top of the list for "best coach," Kobe Bryant for "toughest player" and Tim Duncan for "best leader."
A year can change a lot. Stephen Curry's star turn meant he received 44.8 percent of the votes for "best pure shooter," with Ray Allen second at 24.1 percent. Last year, Allen easily won with 56.7 percent. Dwight Howard's perception has clearly taken a hit after his stint as a Los Angeles Laker, as his votes received dropped from 93.3 percent to 65.5 percent for "best center," from 60 percent to 34.5 percent for "best defensive player" and from 66.7 percent to 46.7 percent for "best interior defender."
As always, there were some strange choices. Multiple general managers said that Andrew Wiggins was the best international player not in the NBA, though I'm not sure Canadian college students were really meant to be included in that category. The Boston Celtics received a vote for "best overall offseason." One GM voted Oklahoma City's Andre Roberson, the No. 21 pick in the draft, to be Rookie of the Year. DeAndre Jordan got a vote as the player who will make the best coach some day. And finally, someone gave Dion Waiters the nod for "best passer." Perfect.