The revamped Clippers are the favorites to win the NBA championship in this year’s survey of league general managers, writes John Schuhmann of NBA.com. Forty-six percent of respondents believe the moves that brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will result in the first title in the nearly 50-year history of the franchise.
The Bucks ranked second at 36%, followed by the Lakers at 11%. The Warriors and Trail Blazers were the only other teams to collect votes.
Milwaukee was an overwhelming choice to repeat as the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 76%, with the Sixers (24%) getting all the remaining votes.
GMs are predicting the following Eastern Conference playoff order: Bucks, Sixers, Celtics, Nets, Raptors, Pacers, Heat and Magic. Out West, the Clippers were picked as the top team by 66% of GMs, with the Lakers at 14% the only other team in double figures. Still the Nuggets slipped into second in the playoff order, followed by the Lakers, Jazz, Rockets, Warriors, Trail Blazers and Spurs.
Here are a few more highlights from the annual survey:
- Fifty-two percent believe Giannis Antetokounmpo will win his second straight MVP award. There was a three-way tie for second with Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Leonard at 10%, followed by Nikola Jokic at 7%. James Harden, LeBron James and Damian Lillard also received votes. Antetokounmpo was picked by 86% of GMs as the player they would like to build a franchise around, while De’Aaron Fox was tabbed as the most likely to have a breakout season.
- The choices for best player at each position were all fairly decisive, with Curry (90%) at point guard, Harden (86%) at shooting guard, Leonard (62%) at small forward, Antetokounmpo (59%) at power forward and Jokic (48%) at center.
- Eighty-two percent said the Clippers made the best offseason moves, followed by the Pelicans at 11%. The Nets and Jazz both got votes. Leonard (67%) was named the player acquisition most likely to have the biggest impact, while Utah’s trade for Mike Conley was the most underrated move (36%).
- Zion Williamson was a clear choice for Rookie of the Year and the rookie who will be the best player in five years, with both numbers at 68%. Ja Morant received 29% support in the ROY poll, while Darius Garland was at 4%.
- Leonard was picked as both the best overall defender (45%) and the best perimeter defender (59%) in the league. Rudy Gobert was selected as best interior defender (93%), while Draymond Green was named the most versatile (38%).
- Gregg Popovich was a runaway winner as best coach at 55%, followed by Erik Spoelstra (17%), Mike Budenholzer (10%) and Steve Kerr (7%).
- The Nuggets were chosen as the most fun to watch by 31% of GMs and the team with the best home-court advantage by 38%.