Nance Jr. The 'Most Underrated' Acquisition, Lillard One Of The 'Best Leaders' In GM Survey

by Casey Holdahl
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With the start of the NBA regular season roughly two weeks away, John Schuhmann over at NBA.com has compiled and released the yearly GM Survey, which queries the league's top decision-makers about a number of topics pertaining to the recently completed offseason and the upcoming season. From which team is the favorite to win the 2021-22 NBA Championship to who is the best coach, the survey provides as good of a baseline as you'll find into the assumptions and expectations held by the the league’s 30 general managers.

While the Trail Blazers as a team don’t get much love from the GMs in this year’s survey, a number of individual players and coaches were recognized in various categories.

A Trail Blazer only took the top spot in one category, but it’s an especially good one. According to 28 percent of the league’s GMs, the deal to acquire Larry Nance Jr. from Cleveland as a part of a three-team trade is the “most underrated player acquisition” of the offseason. Nance Jr. has been widely considered one of the most underrated players in the league the last few seasons, a function of coming off the bench and playing for a rebuilding Cavaliers team the last four years.

But the GMs, likely when considering Portland’s need to improve defensively and Nance Jr.’s reputation as a sneaky great defender, were paying attention, and thus, consider the trade to acquire the 6-7 forward the most undersold of the offseason. Patty Mills signing with the Nets came in second with 17 percent of the vote while the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie came in third with 14 percent.

Damian Lillard is the only player other than Nance Jr. who appears on this year’s survey, though he makes the cut in a number of categories. He comes in second with 17 percent of the vote in the “best point guard” category behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry (57 percent) and ahead of Dallas’ Luka Doncic (13 percent). He comes in third (17 percent) in the “best leader” category behind Chris Paul (43 percent) and LeBron James (20 percent) and ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo (10 percent). He also comes in third in “which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line” with 17 percent of the vote behind Kevin Durant (41 percent) and Stephen Curry (24 percent).

As for the (new) coaches, Scott Brooks comes in tied for third with another former Portland assistant, David Vanterpool, in the “best assistant coach” category with Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham sharing the top spot with 17 percent of the vote. Chauncey Billups made the “also receiving votes” in the “which new head coach will make the biggest impact” category.

As for the team overall, the Blazers take fourth in “best home-court advantage” with seven percent of the vote (the Jazz came in first with 47 percent) and also received votes in the “best offseason moves’ category.

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