NBA PM: Analyzing the Annual GM Survey
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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As they do every year, NBA.com polled all 30 NBA general managers on a variety of topics, 56 to be exact, related to the upcoming season. It’s always interesting to get inside the head of team’s top decision makers, especially when they’re protected by anonymity to ensure their honesty.
Much to the surprise of nobody, the Miami HEAT were voted as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2013-14 NBA Championship. The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs received votes as well, but 75.9 percent of the GMs chose the defending champs to three-peat. That’s a slight increase over last year’s 70 percent vote, but oddly enough in the vote over just who will win the Eastern Conference, the HEAT received 10 percent less votes than they did last year.
The GMs were much more torn in the Western Conference, where they have understandably completely abandoned their favorites from last year in the Los Angeles Lakers and chosen the San Antonio Spurs as the slight favorites. The Spurs received 40 percent of the vote, while the Thunder are just behind them at 36.7 percent. A sizeable portion, 20 percent to be exact, went with the Los Angeles Clippers, with the other 3.3 percent siding with the Houston Rockets.
There’s not a lot of competition for division titles expected by the GMs, with the Brooklyn Nets (75.9 percent), Indiana Pacers (51.7 percent), Miami HEAT (100 percent), San Antonio Spurs (70 percent), Oklahoma City Thunder (96.6 percent) and Los Angeles Clippers (89.7 percent) were picked to win their respective divisions. The Chicago Bulls were the only second-place team to receive more than 40 percent of the votes.
Based off of their positional rankings, here is how GMs expect the All-NBA First Team to end up:
Point Guard: Chris Paul (70 percent)
Shooting Guard: James Harden (56.7 percent)
Small Forward: LeBron James (86.7 percent)
Power Forward: Tim Duncan (31 percent)
Center: Dwight Howard (65.5 percent)
While the absence of Kevin Durant from that list may be surprising, it’s because they went solely with traditional positions. Durant received votes at shooting guard (6.7 percent behind Kobe Bryant and Harden) and small forward (13.3 percent behind James), but wasn’t viewed as the best at either position given the competition. However, it’s safe to assume that when the actual voting is done and there’s a little bit more leniencies in terms of position, Durant easily makes the cut.
This survey should still serve as great motivation for Durant, though, because it shows that even the NBA’s GMs view him as a distant second to James. Durant has finished second behind James in MVP voting in three of the last four years, and he was also voted a distant second in the survey to James in the MVP race again, who they would sign first if they were starting a franchise today and which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments. With that said, Durant was voted as the top player GMs would want taking a shot for them with the game on the line (39.3 percent) and the best at creating his own shot (33.3 percent).
It’s also notable that Howard is still viewed as the best center in the league, meaning most of the GMs are chalking up last season’s disappointing campaign to his back injury and all of the distractions that came during his one year stint with the Lakers. His hold on the top spot has weakened significantly, though, as he lost 28 percent of the voters from last year when only 6.7 percent didn’t vote for him. He did run away with the which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact vote by a long shot, topping Kevin Garnett, Jrue Holiday, Paul Millsap and Josh Smith with 86.2 percent of the votes. Howard was also voted the best defender overall (34.5 percent) and interior defender (46.7 percent).
As far as rookies are concerned, Victor Oladipo easily edged out the competition in the Rookie of the Year award voting (80 percent) and which rookie will be the best player in five years (40 percent).
Even though Erik Spoelstra topped Gregg Popovich in the NBA Finals last season, Popovich still earned the top mark from NBA GMs when asked who is the best head coach in the NBA (75.9 percent), which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people (51.7 percent) and which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments (27.6 percent). Spoelstra actually ranked third behind Doc Rivers in the first two categories and wasn’t even top four in in-game adjustments, a sign that a lot of GMs are still giving his roster and president Pat Riley the majority of the credit in Miami. The only category Popovich did not win was which coach has the best defensive schemes. That went to Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, with Indiana’s Frank Vogul finishing second.
The annual NBA GM survey contains much, much more like who they think is the best international player, most likely to breakout and most entertaining among several other hot topics. Make sure to check out the rest here!
Chris Paul Talks Retirement: At 28 years of age and at the peak of his game, this may not seem like a time where Los Angeles Clippers point guard should even be thinking about retirement, let alone talking about it. However, the dynamic lead guard who has brought Hollywood’s second team to the forefront has indeed thought about when he’ll call it a career and actually admits it could be earlier than expected.
“I love to play basketball more than anybody,” Paul said in an interview with HBO Real Sports’ Mary Carillo. “I’m serious. Nobody loves to play basketball more than I do. But I could honestly see myself maybe stopping a little early or premature just because I hate to miss anything with my kids. I would hate for my kids to recall those special moments in their life and I wasn’t there.”
Paul, who signed a five-year, $108 million contract extension with the Clippers this summer, is the father to two children, a boy and a girl. Paul’s son turned four in May, while his daughter just recently had her first birthday.
By the end of his contract Paul will be 33 years old and his son will be nine, his daughter six. It’s impossible to predict what Paul’s mindset will be then as the next five years will certainly be the biggest determining factor in his ultimate decision. While retiring early may seem plausible to him now, walking away from a seven- or even eight-figure deal will undoubtedly be difficult when the time comes.