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NBA.com 2015-16 GM Survey

Cavs (not the Warriors) favored to win it all

POSTED: Oct 20, 2015 10:14 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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A majority of general managers around the NBA believe the Cavs will collect Cleveland's first NBA title next June.

NBA.com GM Survey Highlights

  • 53.6 percent of GMs pick Cavs to win title
  • 86.2 percent would start a franchise today with Anthony Davis
  • Jahlil Okafor edges Karl-Anthony Towns as predicted Kia Rookie of the Year
  • Gregg Poppovich named top NBA coach by 93.1 percent of GMs
  • Stephen Curry named top player to take shot with game on the line

The 2014-15 Golden State Warriors were, statistically, the best championship team since Michael Jordan's Bulls. But some inside and outside the league would describe the Warriors as lucky, in that they avoided playing the Clippers and Spurs, and faced four teams with missing or injured point guards in the postseason.

The league's general managers seem to agree that the Warriors aren't a budding dynasty. Only 17.9 percent of GMs pick the Warriors to repeat as champions, the third lowest percentage for a defending champion in the 13-year history of the NBA.com GM Survey.

The league's decision makers have picked the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their first ever NBA championship and LeBron James to win his fifth MVP award. If they're starting a new franchise, however, general managers would overwhelmingly want to do it with Anthony Davis.

The GMs responded to 49 different questions (including a few new ones) 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:
2014-15 | 2013-14 | 2012-13 | 2011-12 | 2010-11 | 2009-10 | 2008-09 | 2007-08 | 2006-07

PREDICTIONS

> Which team will win the 2016 NBA Finals?
1. Cleveland -- 53.6%
2. San Antonio -- 25.0%
3. Golden State -- 17.9%
4. Oklahoma City -- 3.6%
Last year: San Antonio -- 46.2%

> Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference.

2015-16 GM Survey: Eastern Conference rankings
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th %Total
Cleveland 96.6% 38.9%
Chicago 3.4% 65.5% 13.8% 6.9% 24.7%
Atlanta 13.8% 34.5% 17.2% 12.8%
Miami 13.8% 20.7% 31.0% 11.5%
Washington 3.4% 24.1% 17.2% 7.6%
Toronto 6.9% 10.3% 2.4%
Milwaukee 3.4% 10.3% 2.1%
%Total = Percentage of total points (4 for 1st, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd, 1 for 4th)

Last year: 70.4 percent picked Cleveland to win the East.

> Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference.

2015-16 GM Survey: Western Conference rankings
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th %Total
Golden State 51.7% 34.5% 6.9% 3.4% 32.8%
San Antonio 41.4% 27.6% 17.2% 6.9% 29.0%
Oklahoma City 6.9% 20.7% 44.8% 10.3% 19.0%
L.A. Clippers 10.3% 13.8% 34.5% 9.3%
Houston 6.9% 13.8% 31.0% 7.9%
Memphis 3.4% 13.8% 2.1%
%Total = Percentage of total points (4 for 1st, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd, 1 for 4th)

Last year: 55.6 percent picked San Antonio to win the West.

PLAYERS

leBron James

> Who will win the 2015-16 MVP?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 39.3%
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 25.0%
3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 10.7%
James Harden, Houston -- 10.7%
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 7.1%
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 7.1%
Last year: LeBron James -- 67.9%

> If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 86.2%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 6.9%
LeBron James, Cleveland -- 6.9%
Last year: LeBron James -- 50.0%

> Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 62.1%
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 20.7%
3. James Harden, Houston -- 6.9%
Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 6.9%
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento -- 3.4%
Last year: LeBron James -- 76.9%

Andrew Wiggins

> Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2015-16?
1. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota -- 17.2%
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 13.8%
3. Bradley Beal, Washington -- 10.3%
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee -- 10.3%
5. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Harrison Barnes, Golden State; Mike Conley, Memphis; Andre Drummond, Detroit; Danilo Gallinari, Denver; Rudy Gobert, Utah; Tobias Harris, Orlando; Reggie Jackson, Detroit; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Shabazz Muhammed, Minnesota; Victor Oladipo, Orlando; Otto Porter, Washington; Marcus Smart, Boston
Last year: Anthony Davis -- 29.6%

> Who is the best point guard in the NBA?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 55.2%
2. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 24.1%
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 17.2%
4. Mike Conley, Memphis -- 3.4%
Last year: Chris Paul -- 71.4%

> Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?
1. James Harden, Houston -- 79.3%
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Chicago; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
Last year: James Harden -- 63.0%

> Who is the best small forward in the NBA?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 89.3%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 8.9%
3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio -- 1.8%
Last year: LeBron James -- 75.0%

> Who is the best power forward in the NBA?
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 82.1%
2. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 7.1%
LeBron James, Cleveland -- 7.1%
4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3.6%
Last year: LaMarcus Aldridge & Blake Griffin -- 25.0%

> Who is the best center in the NBA?
1. Marc Gasol, Memphis -- 65.5%
2. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento -- 13.8%
3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 6.9%
Tim Duncan, San Antonio -- 6.9%
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers -- 6.9%
Last year: Dwight Howard -- 42.9%

OFFSEASON MOVES

David West, LaMarcus Aldridge

> Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?
1. San Antonio -- 79.3%
2. Houston -- 6.9%
L.A. Clippers -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: L.A. Lakers, Portland
Last year: Cleveland -- 89.3%

> Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?
1. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 79.3%
2. Ty Lawson, Houston -- 10.3%
3. Greg Monroe, Milwaukee -- 6.9%
4. DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers -- 3.4%
Last year: LeBron James -- 96.3%

> What was the most underrated player acquisition?
1. Ty Lawson, Houston -- 10.3%
Paul Pierce, L.A. Clippers -- 10.3%
David West, San Antonio -- 10.3%
4. Amir Johnson, Boston -- 6.9%
David Lee, Boston -- 6.9%
Greg Monroe, Milwaukee -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland; Nicolas Batum, Charlotte; Marco Belinelli, Sacramento; DeMarre Carroll, Toronto; Tyson Chandler, Phoenix; Roy Hibbert, L.A. Lakers; Reggie Jackson, Detroit; Brandon Knight, Phoenix; Robin Lopez, New York; Tiago Splitter, Atlanta; Amar'e Stoudemire, Miami; Jason Thompson, Golden State; Marcus Thornton, Houston; Brandan Wright, Memphis
Last year: Tyson Chandler -- 17.9%

> Which team will be most improved in 2015-16?
1. Oklahoma City -- 25.0%
2. Milwaukee -- 17.9%
3. New Orleans -- 14.3%
4. Miami -- 10.7%
5. Indiana -- 7.1%
Also receiving votes: Boston, Denver, L.A. Lakers, Minnesota, New York, Orlando, Utah
Last year: Cleveland -- 75.0%

> What was the most surprising move of the offseason?
1. DeAndre Jordan back to Clippers -- 24.1%
2. Greg Monroe to Milwaukee -- 20.7%
3. David West to San Antonio -- 17.2%
4. LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio -- 6.9%
Tyson Chandler to Phoenix -- 6.9%
Ty Lawson to Houston -- 6.9%
Wesley Matthews to Dallas -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: DeMarre Carroll to Toronto; Paul Pierce to the Clippers; Tom Thibodeau fired
Last year: LeBron James to Cleveland -- 42.9%

ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL

Jahlil Okafor

> Who will win the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year?
1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia -- 44.8%
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota -- 34.5%
3. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver -- 13.8%
Also receiving votes: D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers; Myles Turner, Indiana
Last year: Jabari Parker -- 75.0%

> Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota -- 62.1%
2. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver -- 10.3%
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia -- 10.3%
D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Kristaps Porzingis, New York; Myles Turner, Indiana
Last year: Jabari Parker -- 35.7%

> Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?
1. Justise Winslow (10), Miami -- 31.0%
2. Bobby Portis (22), Chicago -- 24.1%
3. Emmanuel Mudiay (7), Denver -- 20.7%
4. Myles Turner (11), Indiana -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Devin Booker (13), Phoenix; Stanley Johnson (8), Detroit; Kevon Looney (30), Golden State; Jahlil Okafor (3), Philadelphia; Norman Powell (46), Toronto
Last year: Rodney Hood -- 17.9%

> Who is the best international player in the NBA?
1. Marc Gasol, Memphis -- 62.1%
2. Pau Gasol, Chicago -- 17.2%
3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas -- 10.3%
4. Tony Parker, San Antonio -- 6.9%
5. Goran Dragic, Miami -- 3.4%
Last year: Dirk Nowitzki -- 53.6%

> Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA?
1. Dario Saric -- 28.6%
2. Milos Teodosic -- 21.4%
3. Sergio Llull -- 14.3%
4. Dragan Bender -- 10.7%
Rudy Fernandez -- 10.7%
Also receiving votes: Zoran Dragic, Sergio Rodriguez, Ben Simmons, Jan Vesely
Last year: Rudy Fernandez & Dario Saric -- 32.0%

> What country is most likely to challenge the U.S. for an Olympic or World Cup gold medal in the next 10 years?
1. Spain -- 34.5%
2. Canada -- 32.8%
3. France -- 19.0%
4. Croatia -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Lithuania, Serbia
Last year: N/A

DEFENSE

Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard

> Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?
1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio -- 27.6%
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 17.2%
3. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 13.8%
4. Tony Allen, Memphis -- 10.3%
5. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 6.9%
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Rudy Gobert, Utah; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City; Andre Iguodala, Golden State
Last year: Joakim Noah -- 35.7%

> Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?
1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio -- 44.8%
2. Tony Allen, Memphis -- 17.2%
3. Jimmy Butler, Chicago -- 10.3%
LeBron James, Cleveland -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: DeMarre Carroll, Toronto; Andre Iguodala, Golden State; Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers; Klay Thompson, Golden State; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
Last year: LeBron James -- 25.0 %

> Who is the best interior defender in the NBA?
1. Marc Gasol, Memphis -- 27.6%
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 17.2%
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers -- 17.2%
4. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 10.3%
5. Dwight Howard, Houston -- 6.9%
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Roy Hibbert, L.A. Lakers; Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland; Joakim Noah, Chicago
Last year: Joakim Noah -- 39.3%

> Which is the best defensive team in the NBA?
1. Golden State -- 58.6%
2. Memphis -- 34.5%
Also receiving votes: Chicago, Cleveland
Last year: Chicago -- 85.7%

COACHES

San Antonio Spurs

> Who is the best head coach in the NBA?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 93.1%
Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta; Steve Kerr, Golden State
Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 92.9%

> Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 48.3%
2. Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers -- 31.0%
3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 13.8%
Also receiving votes: Brett Brown, Philadelphia; Erik Spoelstra, Miami
Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 57.1%

> Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 37.9%
2. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 31.0%
3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 10.3%
4. Jason Kidd, Milwaukee -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Charlotte; Erik Spoelstra, Miami; Brad Stevens, Boston; Stan Van Gundy, Detroit
Last year: Gregg Popovich --46.4%

> Which head coach runs the best offense?
1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 58.6%
2. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 27.6%
3. Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Rick Carlisle, Dallas; Brad Stevens, Boston
Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 77.8%

> Which head coach has the best defensive schemes?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 31.0%
2. Dave Joerger, Memphis -- 27.6%
3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 13.8%
4. Steve Clifford, Charlotte -- 6.9%
Jason Kidd, Milwaukee -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Brad Stevens, Boston; Tom Thibodeau; Stan Van Gundy, Detroit; Frank Vogel, Indiana
Last year: Tom Thibodeau -- 92.9%

Alvin Gentry

> Which new (or relocated) coach will make the biggest impact this season?
1. Alvin Gentry, New Orleans -- 32.1%
2. Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City -- 28.6%
3. Fred Hoiberg, Chicago -- 17.9%
4. Scott Skiles, Orlando -- 10.7%
5. George Karl, Sacramento -- 7.1%
6. Mike Malone, Denver -- 3.6%
Last year: N/A

> Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA?
1. Ron Adams, Golden State -- 24.1%
2. Tyronn Lue, Cleveland -- 20.4%
3. Ettore Messina, San Antonio -- 11.1%
Also receiving votes: J.B. Bickerstaff, Houston; Jim Boylen, Chicago; Dan Burke, Indiana; Lawrence Frank, L.A. Clippers; Tim Grgurich; Adrian Griffin, Orlando; Melvin Hunt, Dallas; Nate McMillan, Indiana; Micah Nori, Denver; Nick Nurse, Toronto; Monty Williams, Oklahoma City; Mike Woodson, L.A. Clippers
Last year: Alvin Gentry -- 17.9%

> Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 25.0%
2. Mike Conley, Memphis -- 14.3%
3. Steve Blake, Detroit -- 12.5%
4. Andre Miller, Minnesota -- 7.1%
5. Jarrett Jack, Brooklyn -- 5.4%
Also receiving votes: Caron Butler, Sacramento; Jared Dudley, Washington; Willie Green; Kirk Hinrich, Chicago; Jameer Nelson, Denver; Pablo Prigioni, L.A. Clippers; J.J. Redick, L.A. Clippers; Luis Scola, Toronto; Garrett Temple, Washington; David West, San Antonio
Last year: Chris Paul -- 24.0%

MISCELLANEOUS

Stephen Curry

> Which team is the most fun to watch?
1. Golden State -- 93.1%
Also receiving votes: Cleveland, Oklahoma City
Last year: Golden State -- 57.1%

> Which team has the best home-court advantage?
1. Golden State -- 65.5%
2. Oklahoma City -- 17.2%
3. Utah -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Cleveland, Denver
Last year: Oklahoma City -- 42.9%

> Which player is the most athletic?
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 34.5%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 20.7%
3. Zach LaVine, Minnesota -- 17.2%
4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Andre Drummond, Detroit; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers; DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers; Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota
Last year: LeBron James -- 50.0%

> Which player is the best pure shooter?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 79.3%
2. Kyle Korver, Atlanta -- 10.3%
3. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 6.9%
4. Anthony Morrow, Oklahoma City -- 3.4%
Last year: Stephen Curry -- 60.7%

John Wall

> Which player is the fastest with the ball?
1. John Wall, Washington -- 53.4%
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 32.8%
Also receiving votes: Ty Lawson, Houston; Ish Smith, Washington; Jeff Teague, Atlanta; Isaiah Thomas, Boston
Last year: John Wall & Russell Westbrook -- 40.7%

> Which player is best at moving without the ball?
1. Kyle Korver, Atlanta -- 69.0%
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 13.8%
3. J.J. Redick, L.A. Clippers -- 10.3%
Also receiving votes: Marco Belinelli, Sacramento; Jimmy Butler, Chicago
Last year: Kyle Korver -- 53.6%

> Which player is the best passer?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 71.4%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 10.7%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 7.1%
Rajon Rondo, Sacramento -- 7.1%
5. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota -- 3.6%
Last year: Chris Paul -- 64.3%

> What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game?
1. Andre Iguodala, Golden State -- 37.9%
2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston -- 17.2%
3. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers -- 10.3%
4. Tony Allen, Memphis -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Marco Belinelli, Sacramento; Corey Brewer, Houston; Taj Gibson, Chicago; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Draymond Green, Golden State; Nikola Mirotic, Chicago; Tristan Thompson; Lou Williams, L.A. Lakers
Last year: N/A

> Who is the toughest player in the NBA?
1. Tony Allen, Memphis -- 20.7%
2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 17.2%
3. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 6.9%
Jimmy Butler, Chicago -- 6.9%
Zach Randolph, Memphis -- 6.9%
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Andrew Bogut, Golden State; Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; LeBron James, Cleveland; Robin Lopez, New York; Wesley Matthews, Dallas; Joakim Noah, Chicago; Zaza Pachulia, Dallas; Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers; David West, San Antonio
Last year: Tony Allen -- 25.9%

LeBron James

> Which player is the best leader?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 44.6%
2. Tim Duncan, San Antonio -- 30.4%
3. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 17.9%
Also receiving votes: Kevin Garnett, Minnesota; Paul Pierce, L.A. Clippers
Last year: Tim Duncan -- 35.7%

> Who is the league's best role player?
1. Andre Iguodala, Golden State -- 20.7%
2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 17.2%
3. Kyle Korver, Atlanta -- 13.8%
4. Danny Green, San Antonio -- 10.3%
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio -- 10.3%
6. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio -- 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Marco Belinelli, Sacramento; Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City; Isaiah Thomas, Boston; Lou Williams, L.A. Lakers
Last year: Boris Diaw & Kenneth Faried -- 11.1%

> Which player has the best basketball IQ?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 46.4%
2. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 35.7%
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10.7%
4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio -- 7.1%
Last year: Chris Paul -- 28.6%

> Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 51.7%
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 31.0%
3. James Harden, Houston -- 10.3%
4. Carmelo Anthony, New York -- 6.9%
Last year: Kevin Durant -- 76.9%

> What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change?
1. Change Lottery odds/system -- 24.0%
2. Add rights to D-League players (longer Draft) -- 16.0%
Playoff format (Seed 1-16) -- 16.0%
4. Reduce length/number of timeouts -- 12.0%
5. Adopt FIBA goaltending/basket interference rules -- 8.0%
Also receiving votes: Adjust salary cap exceptions for teams in states with no income tax; Advance-the-ball rule; Remove coach's mic; Remove cameramen from the baseline; Adjust schedule to remove division weighting; Widen court.
Last year: N/A

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

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