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NBA.com 2016-17 GM Survey

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Oct 18, 2016 10:08 AM ET

NBA GMs think Stephen Curry and LeBron James will square off in another Finals.

If it’s hard for you to imagine the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors not returning to The Finals for a third straight year, you’re not alone. 

In fact, almost every general manager in the league thinks that the Cavs and Warriors will play for the championship again. And after correctly predicting that the Cavs would win their first championship last season, most of the GMs believe that the Warriors will win the rubber match.

The addition of Kevin Durant was surely a big factor in that prediction. Even though the Warriors won 73 games without him, the league’s decision makers believe that Durant’s move to Golden State was the most impactful transaction of the summer. 

Things get a little murky after the top teams on each side. Nine different teams from the East and nine from the West were picked to finish in the top four of their conference.

The Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t one of those nine in the West, but the GMs see a bright future in Minnesota. They like Karl-Anthony Towns as the guy they’d most like to start a franchise with and Kris Dunn as the Wolves’ third straight Rookie of the Year winner.

The GMs responded to 48 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs.

GM SURVEY QUICK LINKS:
Predictions | Players | Offseason Moves | Rookies & International | Defense | Coaches | Miscellaneous

PAST GM SURVEYS: 
2015-162014-15 | 2013-14 | 2012-13 | 2011-12 | 2010-11 | 2009-10 | 2008-09 | 2007-08 |2006-07

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PREDICTIONS    

Which team will win the 2017 NBA Finals?
1. Golden State – 69.0%
2. Cleveland – 31.0%
Last year: Cleveland – 53.6%

 

Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference.

Last year: 96.6 percent picked Cleveland to win the East. Order after the Cavs was Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, Toronto and Milwaukee.

 

Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference.

Last year: 51.7 percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was San Antonio, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, Houston and Memphis.


PLAYERS

Who will win the 2016-17 MVP?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 46.7%
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – 23.3%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 10.0%
    James Harden, Houston – 10.0%
5. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 6.7%
6. Paul George, Indiana – 3.3%
Last year: LeBron James – 39.3%

 

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota – 48.3%
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 20.7%
3. LeBron James, Cleveland – 17.2%
Also receiving votes: Stephen Curry, Golden State; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
Last year: Anthony Davis – 86.2%

 

Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 75.0%
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 21.4%
3. Draymond Green, Golden State – 3.6%
Last year: LeBron James – 62.1%

 

Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2016-17?
1. Devin Booker, Phoenix – 31.0%
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota – 13.8%
3. Myles Turner, Indiana – 10.3%
4. D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers – 6.9%
    Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota – 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Kevin Durant, Golden State; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Kristaps Porzingis, New York; Terry Rozier, Boston; Dennis Schroder, Atlanta; Marcus Smart, Boston
Last year: Andrew Wiggins – 17.2%

 

Who is the best point guard in the NBA?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 63.3%
2. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers – 20.0%
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – 10.0%
4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland – 6.7%
Last year: Stephen Curry – 55.2%

 

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?
1. James Harden, Houston – 56.7%
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State – 40.0%
3. Dwyane Wade, Chicago – 3.3%
Last year: James Harden – 79.3%

 

Who is the best small forward in the NBA?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 76.8%
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 23.2%
Last year: LeBron James – 89.3%

 

Who is the best power forward in the NBA?
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 29.0%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland – 19.4%
3. Draymond Green, Golden State – 16.1%     
4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio – 12.9%
    Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers – 12.9%
6. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 9.7%
Last year: Anthony Davis – 82.1%

 

Who is the best center in the NBA?
1. DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers – 33.3%
2. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento – 26.7%
3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 16.7%
4. Marc Gasol, Memphis – 13.3%
5. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota – 6.7%
6. Draymond Green, Golden State – 3.3%
Last year: Marc Gasol – 65.5%


OFFSEASON MOVES

Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?
1. Golden State – 83.3%
2. Indiana – 6.7%
    Utah – 6.7%
4. Boston – 3.3%
Last year: San Antonio – 79.3%

 

Which one-player acquisition will make the biggest impact?
1. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 80.0%
2. Al Horford, Boston – 13.3%
Also receiving votes: George Hill, Utah; Derrick Rose, New York
Last year: LaMarcus Aldridge – 79.3%

 

Who was the most underrated player acquisition?
1. George Hill, Utah – 24.1%
2. Jeff Teague, Indiana – 13.8%
3. Andrew Bogut, Dallas – 10.3%
4. Serge Ibaka, Orlando – 6.9%
    Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City – 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Ryan Anderson, Houston; Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee; Boris Diaw, Utah; Mike Dunleavy, Cleveland; Pau Gasol, San Antonio; LeBron James, Cleveland; Courtney Lee, New York; Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn; Zaza Pachulia, Golden State; Dion Waiters, Miami; Thaddeus Young, Indiana
Last year: Ty Lawson, Paul Pierce & David West – 10.3%

 

Which team will be most improved in 2016-17?
1. Minnesota – 56.7%
2. Utah – 23.3%
3. New York – 10.0%
Also receiving votes: Boston, Houston, L.A. Lakers
Last year: Oklahoma City – 25.0%

 

What was the most surprising move of the offseason?
1. Kevin Durant to Golden State – 46.7%
2. Dwyane Wade to Chicago – 43.3%
Also receiving votes: Al Horford to Boston, Ibaka/Oladipo trade, Tyler Johnson offer sheet
Last year: DeAndre Jordan back to Clippers – 24.1%


ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL

Who will win the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year?
1. Kris Dunn, Minnesota – 46.7%
2. Buddy Hield, New Orleans – 13.3%
    Ben Simmons, Philadelphia – 13.3%
4. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia – 10.0%
    Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers – 10.0%
Also receiving votes: Marquese Chriss, Phoenix; Jamal Murray, Denver
Last year: Jahlil Okafor – 44.8%

 

Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia – 70.0%
2. Kris Dunn, Minnesota – 20.0%
3. Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers – 6.7%
4. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia – 3.3%
Last year: Karl-Anthony Towns – 62.1%

 

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?
1. Dejounte Murray (29), San Antonio – 23.3%
2. Kris Dunn (5), Minnesota – 16.7%
3. Patrick McCaw (38), Golden State – 13.3%
4. Henry Ellenson (18), Detroit – 10.0%
5. Marquese Chris (8), Phoenix – 6.7%
    Skal Labissiere (28), Sacramento – 6.7%
    Denzel Valentine (14), Chicago – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon (36), Milwaukee; Cheick Diallo (33), New Orleans; Thon Maker (10), Milwaukee; Pascal Siakam (27), Toronto; Ivica Zubac (32), L.A. Lakers
Last year: Justise Winslow – 31.0%

 

Who is the best international player in the NBA?
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 27.6%
2. Marc Gasol, Memphis – 24.1%
3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas – 22.4%
4. Kristaps Porzingis, New York – 12.1%
5. Pau Gasol, San Antonio – 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Rudy Gobert, Utah; Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota
Last year: Marc Gasol – 62.1%

 

Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA?
1. Milos Teodosic – 53.6%
2. Sergio LLull – 28.6%
3. Nando de Colo – 14.3%
4. Vassilis Spanoulis – 3.6%
Last year: Dario Saric – 28.6%


DEFENSE

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?
1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio – 66.7%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland – 10.0%
3. Avery Bradley, Boston – 6.7%
    Draymond Green, Golden State – 6.7%
    DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers – 6.7%
6. Hassan Whiteside, Miami – 3.3%
Last year: Kawhi Leonard – 27.6%

 

Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?
1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio – 66.7%
2. Avery Bradley, Boston – 16.7%
3. Tony Allen, Memphis – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Chicago; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit; Klay Thompson, Golden State
Last year: Kawhi Leonard – 44.8%

 

Who is the best interior defender in the NBA?
1. DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers – 50.0%
2. Rudy Gobert, Utah – 16.7%
3. Draymond Green, Golden State – 10.0%
4. Marc Gasol, Memphis – 6.7%     
    Dwight Howard, Atlanta – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Bismack Biyombo, Orlando; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Hassan Whiteside, Miami
Last year: Marc Gasol – 27.6%

 

Which is the best defensive team in the NBA?
1. San Antonio – 50.0%
2. Boston – 13.3%
3. Cleveland – 10.0%
    Golden State – 10.0%
    Utah – 10.0%
6. Atlanta – 6.7%
Last year: Golden State – 58.6%


COACHES

Who is the best head coach in the NBA?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio – 83.3%
2. Rick Carlisle, Dallas – 13.3%
3. Brad Stevens, Boston – 3.3%
Last year: Gregg Popovich – 93.1%

 

Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio – 66.7%
2. Steve Kerr, Golden State – 16.7%
3. Brad Stevens, Boston – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Rick Carlisle, Dallas; Steve Clifford, Charlotte; Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers
Last year: Gregg Popovich – 48.3%

 

Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments?
1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas – 41.4%
2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio – 31.0%
3. Brad Stevens, Boston – 13.8%
Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta; Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami; Stan Van Gundy, Detroit
Last year: Gregg Popovich – 37.9%

 

Which head coach runs the best offense?
1. Steve Kerr, Golden State – 63.3%
2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio – 16.7%
3. Rick Carlisle, Dallas – 6.7%
    Mike D'Antoni, Houston – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Brad Stevens, Boston; Terry Stotts, Portland
Last year: Steve Kerr – 58.6%

 

Which head coach has the best defensive schemes?
1. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota – 60.0%
2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio – 33.3%
Also receiving votes: Brad Stevens, Boston; Stan Van Gundy, Detroit
Last year: Gregg Popovich – 31.0%

 

Which new (or relocated) coach will make the biggest impact this season?
1. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota – 78.3%
2. Frank Vogel, Orlando – 10.0%
3. Mike D'Antoni, Houston – 8.3%
4. Luke Walton, L.A. Lakers – 3.3%
Last year: Alvin Gentry – 32.1%

 

Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA?
1. Ron Adams, Golden State – 37.9%
2. Stephen Silas, Charlotte – 10.3%
3. James Borrego, San Antonio – 6.9%
    Dan Burke, Indiana – 6.9%
Also receiving votes: J.B. Bickerstaff, Memphis; Larry Drew, Cleveland; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Darren Erman, New Orleans; Tim Grgurich; Adrian Griffin, Oklahoma City; Ettore Messina, San Antonio; Nick Nurse, Toronto; Brian Shaw, L.A. Lakers; David Vanterpool, Portland; Mike Woodson, L.A. Clippers
Last year: Ron Adams – 24.1%

 

Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers – 27.6%
2. Jared Dudley, Phoenix – 10.3%
    Ronnie Price, Oklahoma City – 10.3%
4. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio – 6.9%
    Jason Terry, Milwaukee – 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Steve Blake; Matt Bonner; Avery Bradley, Boston; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Mike Dunleavy, Cleveland; Draymond Green, Golden State; Shaun Livingston, Golden State; T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia; Andre Miller; Mike Miller, Denver; Jameer Nelson, Denver
Last year: Chris Paul – 25.0%


MISCELLANEOUS

Which team is the most fun to watch?
1. Golden State – 93.3%
Also receiving votes: L.A. Clippers, Portland
Last year: Golden State – 93.1%

 

Which team has the best home-court advantage?
1. Golden State – 58.3%
2. Denver – 16.7%
3. Oklahoma City – 10.0%
4. San Antonio – 6.7%
5. Utah – 5.0%
6. Portland – 3.3%
Last year: Golden State – 65.5%

 

Which player is the most athletic?
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – 62.1%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland – 17.2%
3. Zach LaVine, Minnesota – 10.3%
4. Aaron Gordon, Orlando – 6.9%
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 3.4%
Last year: Russell Westbrook – 34.5%

 

Which player is the best pure shooter?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 60.0%
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State – 26.7%
3. Kyle Korver, Atlanta – 10.0%
4. J.J. Redick, L.A. Clippers – 3.3%
Last year: Stephen Curry – 79.3%

 

Which player is the fastest with the ball?
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – 46.7% 
2. John Wall, Washington – 40.0%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland; Ish Smith, Detroit
Last year: John Wall – 53.4%

 

Which player is best at moving without the ball?
1. Klay Thompson, Golden State – 40.0%
2. Kyle Korver, Atlanta – 30.0%
3. J.J. Redick, L.A. Clippers – 16.7%
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Kevin Durant, Golden State; Dwyane Wade, Chicago
Last year: Kyle Korver – 69.0%

 

Which player is the best passer?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers – 62.1%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland – 20.7%
3. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota – 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Rajon Rondo, Chicago; Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
Last year: Chris Paul – 71.4%

 

What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game?
1. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers – 46.7%
2. Andre Iguodala, Golden State – 40.0%
3. Zach Randolph, Memphis – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Mike Dunleavy, Cleveland; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
Last year: Andre Iguodala – 37.9%

 

Who is the toughest player in the NBA?
1. Tony Allen, Memphis – 23.3%
2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio – 16.7%
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – 13.3%
4. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City – 10.0%
    Draymond Green, Golden State – 10.0%
6. Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee – 6.7%
    LeBron James, Cleveland – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Patrick Beverley, Houston; Jimmy Butler, Chicago; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Isaiah Thomas, Boston
Last year: Tony Allen – 20.7%

 

Which player is the best leader?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 57.1%
2. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers – 14.3%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 10.7%
    Draymond Green, Golden State – 10.7%    
Also receiving votes: Tim Duncan; Dwyane Wade, Chicago
Last year: LeBron James – 44.6%

 

Who is the most versatile player in the NBA?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 75.0%
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 10.0%
3. Draymond Green, Golden State – 8.3%
Also receiving votes: Kevin Durant, Golden State; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio
Last year: N/A

 

Which player has the best basketball IQ?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland – 65.5%
2. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers –24.1%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 6.9%
4. Kyle Lowry, Toronto – 3.4%
Last year: Chris Paul – 46.4%

 

Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 75.9%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland – 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Carmelo Anthony, New York; Kevin Durant, Golden State; James Harden, Houston; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
Last year: Stephen Curry – 51.7%

 

What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change?
1. Change Draft Lottery odds/system – 30.0%
2. Reduce number of timeouts – 20.0%
3. Intentional fouling – 10.0%
4. Adopt FIBA goaltending/basket interference rules – 6.7%
    Change/stretch the schedule – 6.7%
Also receiving votes: Add a fourth official; Advance-the-ball rule; Remove inactive list; Jump-ball/possession arrow; Max contracts; Playoff seeding (1-16); Shot clock to 14 on offensive rebound.
Last year: Change Draft Lottery odds/system – 24.0%

 

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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