Community Shootaround: Executive Of The Year

Unlike the other awards we’ve discussed in our Community Shootaround posts over the last week-and-a-half, the NBA’s Executive of the Year honor is voted on by team executives rather than media members. As such, it’s not generally grouped together with the league’s major awards like Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.

Still, now that we’re facing the possibility that the 2019/20 regular season may be over, it’s worth exploring which executives might be the top candidates for the award this year.

A team’s winning percentage is often a pretty good indicator of which general managers or presidents of basketball operations will receive Executive of the Year consideration. Five of the last six execs to win the award have overseen the team with the NBA’s best record, including last year’s winner: Jon Horst of the Bucks.

With Milwaukee once again holding the league’s best record in 2019/20, Horst is a candidate to become a repeat winner. However, his roster moves in the last year haven’t been particularly flashy — he mostly re-signed key free agents during the 2019 offseason, adding only role players like Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews.

Voters may be more swayed by a major move such as the acquisition of Anthony Davis, which could put Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka in the driver’s seat. Besides acquiring Davis, Pelinka filled out the roster with a series of budget signings, building a squad that now owns the top seed in the Western Conference. And he did all that in the wake of Magic Johnson‘s shocking departure from the front office last spring.

Los Angeles’ other team, the Clippers, made a pair of flashy acquisitions during 2019’s free agent period, landing both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and currently ranks second in the West. As such, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank should receive Executive of the Year consideration.

Heat president Pat Riley deserves credit for landing Jimmy Butler without any cap space and for identifying under-the-radar gems like Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn. Thunder GM Sam Presti did a tremendous job putting together a playoff roster while trading away George, Russell Westbrook, and Jerami Grant and stockpiling future draft picks. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge pivoted nicely from a dysfunctional group led by Kyrie Irving to a more cohesive squad with Kemba Walker at the point.

While those look to me like the top candidates, you could certainly make a case for a few others, especially if you consider how past years’ transactions have impacted this year’s rosters. For instance, the Mavericks‘ 2018 draft-day trade for Luka Doncic is the primary reason for the team’s breakthrough ’19/20 season. That’s a point in favor of Mavs GM Donn Nelson, even if you don’t weigh it as heavily as roster moves from the last 10-12 months. Raptors president Masai Ujiri is another exec who’d fall into this category.

I’d also probably give Grizzlies executive VP of basketball operations Zack Kleiman at least a cursory look for a series of impressive transactions, including trading away Mike Conley and trading up in the draft for Brandon Clarke. Memphis also secured a lightly-protected first-round pick in an Andre Iguodala salary dump before flipping Iguodala in a deal that netted the club Justise Winslow.

What do you think? Who would be your pick for Executive of the Year in 2020? Who are the other candidates you’d consider?

Head below to our comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

newest oldest

8 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Executive Of The Year

  1. Neil5611

    Sam Presti with the Thunder has done a great job and has accumulated tons of draft capital.

    • yogineely

      I agree, presti made some awesome trades for picks and then should get credit for the fact that while I was imprest by the acquired picks he actually put together a good team under the radar. At least under my radar, I totally expected him to flip Cp3.

  2. x%sure

    Pelinka & Frank both benefited from being LA-based in drawing FAs.
    Horst won last year and shouln’t win backtoback without a title.
    Kleinman’s trade for Winslow doesn’t have a result yet.
    Presti or Ujiri have done the best.

  3. Jeff Zanghi

    I think Ainge should get some credit/consideration. Going into the off-season with the C’s losing Irving writers were beginning to write them off. Then Ainge pulled out the Kemba Walker trade seemingly out of no where and now then the Celtics went on to post a better record post-Kyrie. I mean to be honest it was obvious Kyrie was a cancer in the lockerroom so the argument could be made anything but Irving was better for the team. But still Ainge is responsible for sticking to his guns keeping Brown and Tatum and that has clearly paid off. Not to mention what looked like a disaster contract with Hayward even looks like a solid move (granted that wasn’t this off-season) but sticking with him and putting all the pieces in place the way he has, has obviously worked out thus far

  4. nentwigs

    Gersson Rosas deserves consideration just for the fact that he is running the Minnesota Timberwolves.
    Talk about BRAVE !!
    Awful difficult to show up for work every day while felling SICK under those circumstances.

  5. redNation

    I don’t really understand this award. If team is winning coach should deserve this award or most valuable player.
    These days players have way bigger impact than it used to be. So players deciding for what team to play and what teammates they want to bring with them is not something that Executive of the Year should deserve. Therefore Clippers and Lakers I believe is off the table.
    Jon Horst? What? To keep the same team? It is every managers job to do so.
    I think this award should got to managers who does their magic to maneuver with given assets to bring good players, good personnel, finds gems in young athletes, does good with saving and taxes.
    Therefore I think Pat Riley should deserve credit for Jimmy and Nunn, Danny Ainge for finding the way keep team very competitive and maybe Sam Presti (but only because CP3 brings the chip on his shoulder) for assets.
    Dark horse could be Hawks or Mavericks managers as I believe those teams have very bright future.

Leave a Reply