The annual preseason survey of NBA GMs is out for 2017-18, and once again, it’s an interesting look at how some of the big decision makers are expecting this season to go.
In what should come as no surprise, the Golden State Warriors are the GMs’ pick to win the title once again, with 93 percent picking them to repeat as champions. This is up from last season, predicted they would win the Finals.
The GMs are also tapping LeBron James to be the league’s MVP, with 50 percent of the vote. The next highest vote-getter was Kevin Durant, at 29 percent. This is the sixth straight season in which LeBron has been the GMs’ favorite to win MVP. The last time he wasn’t was back in 2011-12, when KD had slightly more votes.
A few other highlights from the GMs’ thoughts heading into the 2017-18 season:
- One GM picked the Charlotte Hornets to finish third in the Eastern Conference. No other GM had them anywhere in the top four.
- Karl-Anthony Towns (29 percent) was tapped as the player GMs would sign if they were starting a franchise and could choose any player in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 percent) followed closely behind in second, and even at 32 years old, LeBron still finished third in this category with 11 percent of the vote.
- Towns also was chosen by GMs as the player most likely to have a breakout season, which should be terrifying for the rest of the league considering he averaged 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds last season.
- The GMs’ selections for the best players at each position were Stephen Curry (PG), James Harden (SG), James (SF), Anthony Davis (PF) and Towns (C)
- As for the wild offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder were seen as having the most success this summer, with 43 percent of GMs saying they made the best offseason moves. Next up was the Boston Celtics with 25 percent of the responses.
- In relation to OKC’s strong summer, GMs see Paul George as the new acquisition that will have the most impact on his new team, and by a wide margin (59 percent).
- The Minnesota Timberwolves, unsurprisingly, are the team GMs think will be most improved next season with a whopping 69 percent marking them down in that category. The Hornets also got a vote here, and that must be from the same GM who sees them finishing third in the East.
- Lonzo Ball (62 percent) is the clear favorite to win Rookie of the Year, while Dennis Smith (37 percent) was the biggest steal in the draft, according to GMs.
- As for coaches, Gregg Popovich (82 percent) is far and away seen as the best coach in the league, while Chris Paul (39 percent) is seen as the current player who will make the best coach someday.
- Interestingly, the rule GMs said most needs to change is playoff seeding (27 percent), though it’s not exactly clear what they believe a different format would look like.