The Miami Heat are the runaway favorite to win the NBA title, according to NBA general managers.
LeBron James’ name appeared a lot in the NBA.com’s annual GM Survey, and the Miami Heat were quite popular. All 30 General Managers responded to 56 different questions about the best teams, players and league developments. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to each question of the survey, rather than all 30 GMs.
The Heat received 75.9 percent of the vote to win the title and complete a threepeat. Indiana and San Antonio tied for second place with 6.9 percent of the vote. Of course, Miami was also favored to win the Eastern Conference, receiving 86.2 percent of the vote with Indiana and Chicago coming in second and third with 10.3 percent and 3.4 percent of the vote respectively.
James is also the favorite to win the 2013-14 MVP, garnering 69 percent of the vote. Kevin Durant came in second with 24.1 percent of the vote.
The most interesting question and answer, by far, was when GM’s were asked to pick one NBA player to start a franchise with. LeBron took an overwhelming 89.7 percent of the vote over studs like Durant (6.9 percent) and Kyrie Irving (3.4 percent). If we were to poll NBA fans and compare it to these answers by NBA GM’s, this is the category that we would see the biggest difference. No doubt about it. Many NBA fans would choose Durant and I would expect him to either take the majority or, at least, half of the fan vote. Why? Probably because fans overrate factors such as age (LeBron is 28 and Durant is 25) and jump shooting ability. But GM’s are taking a few more years of one of the most dominating players the NBA has ever seen over the potential of Durant. That is the right way to go.
In a somewhat related question, 66.7 percent of GM’s said LeBron forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments, with 13.3 percent saying Durant and 10 percent answering Chris Paul.
General managers named Dwyane Wade the sixth best shooting guard in the NBA, but put non-shooting guards Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Paul George ahead of him. James Harden (56.7 percent) and Kobe Bryant (20 percent) were the top two. I suspect GM’s are more wary of Wade’s durability concerns than maybe coaches and other players.
LeBron (86.7 percent) was named the best small forward in the league with Durant the only other player to receive votes. James received 73.3 percent last year. LeBron also dominated in the most-athletic vote with 56.7 percent of the vote (Russell Westbrook came in second with 16.7 percent), was voted most dangerous in the open floor (73.3 percent), best finisher at the rim (70 percent), received 13.3 percent of the votes for best power forward in the NBA, was named second best (27.6 percent) defensive player in the league behind Dwight Howard (34.5 percent) as well as second best (33.3 percent) perimeter defender behind Tony Allen (36.7 percent) and came in third for best basketball IQ (13.3 percent) behind Paul (33.3 percent), Steve Nash (16.7 percent) and tied with Tim Duncan. Most GM’s want Durant (39.3 percent) taking the last shot in the game with 7.1 percent preferring James.
Miami was named the third best defensive team in the NBA behind Chicago and Indiana.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dominated in all head coaching categories except for defensive schemes (Tom Thibodeau deservedly won that one) with Erik Spoeltra garnering votes in every category, including a tie for third with Thibodeau for best coach in the NBA.
In other polls, of all active players, 14.3 percent of GM’s said Shane Battier would make the best head coach; 10 percent said Miami has the best home-court advantage and Ray Allen was said to be the best at moving without the ball and second-best pure shooter behind Stephen Curry (Allen was voted best pure shooter last season).