Lillard Voted Best Leader, Blazers Get Championship Vote In 2019-20 GM Survey

by Casey Holdahl
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For the 18th straight year, the folks at NBA.com surveyed all 30 general managers (or whatever title a team gives to the leader of their front office) about a host of topics pertaining to the upcoming season. While it's always interesting to gauge the opinions, even in an anonymous survey, of the league's decision-makers, it's especially compelling this time around thanks to an offseason of player movement that has made the 2019-20 season the most wide open in at least the last five years. 

And thanks to their performance last season, the Trail Blazers do a bit better than usual in this year's survey. They're probably not getting the credit they deserve -- Terry Stotts in particular doesn't seem to get the level of praise one would assume a coach with his recent track record would garner -- but compared to recent seasons, it's a strong showing. Some of the highlights...

• While most of the general managers don't have the Trail Blazers finishing in the top of the West this season, one did pick the Trail Blazers to win the championship (this is a good time to note that GMs/presidents can't vote for their own teams).

The Clippers took the top spot with 46 percent of the vote, followed by the Bucks with 36 percent and the Lakers with 11 percent. Golden State also joined the Trail Blazers in "also receiving votes."

In other team results, the Blazers come in fifth in "most fun team to watch" with 7 percent of the vote and fourth, also with seven percent of the vote, in "best home-court advantage" behind the Nuggets, Jazz and Warriors. All the general managers/presidents don't vote on every question, so it's hard to know exactly how many picked Portland in these categories, but since both still have an "also receiving votes" section, it can be assumed that seven percent is at least two GMs/presidents.

• Damian Lillard, coming off a season in which he led the Trail Blazers to their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals in almost 20 years, gets more votes in multiple categories than any Portland player in recent memory. The headline is that Lillard took the top spot in "best leader" with 41 percent of the vote, beating out Stephen Curry (37 percent) and LeBron James (15 percent).

While Lillard beat out Curry for "best leader," the Golden State Warriors and former Most Valuable Player comes out on top of the "best point guard" vote with a whopping 90 percent. Dame is second with seven percent and LeBron is third with three percent.

Having built a reputation as one of the NBA's most clutch performers, Lillard gets 11 percent of the vote to end in a three-way tie for second in the "which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?" question with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, two players who might not take a single shot in any situation this season. Curry once again is the top vote getter at 44 percent. Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard come in a tie for fifth with seven percent of the vote, while James Harden and LeBron James also received votes.

Lillard also appears in the "also receiving votes" for Most Valuable Player and "toughest player."

• If he wasn't sharing a backcourt with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum would almost assuredly show up more often on the GM survey. But even so, the 6-4 guard out of Lehigh comes in fifth in "best at moving without the ball" behind Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick, Stephen Curry and Kyle Korver. McCollum also shows up in "receiving votes" in the "Which player will make the best head coach some day?" question.

• The only other players to make the GM survey are Zach Collins, who received votes in the "most likely to have a breakout season" question, and Nassir Little, who also receives votes in the "biggest steal at where he was selected in the draft" category.

• As for the coaching staff, Terry Stotts gets 14 percent of the vote, good for a three-way tie for second with Mike Budenholzer and Mike D'Antoni, in "Which head coach runs the best offense?" and also receives votes in "best manager/motivator or people," which is borderline criminal. Gregg Popovich, who recently coached Team USA to a seventh-place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, gets the top spot with 41 percent of the vote followed by Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr.

And finally, in the "best assistant coach" category, Nate Tibbetts comes in a five-way tie for fourth with seven percent of the vote.

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