2019-20 Kia Season Preview
2019-20 Kia Season Preview

NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey

Clippers, Bucks garner many honors as a wide-open NBA season nears

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Oct 17, 2019 10:00 AM ET

The Clippers have been tabbed by most NBA GMs as the preseason favorite to win the 2020 NBA title.

Included in all the player movement of this past summer was the last two Finals MVPs leaving the two teams that met in the 2019 Finals. And with more balance in the distribution of superstars, the race for the 2020 NBA championship appears to be wide open. There are favorites, of course. But with so many good players in new uniforms, we don't know how all the pieces are going to fit.

We still asked the league's decision-makers to take their best guesses. And in the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, 46 percent of general managers have picked Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lead the LA Clippers to their first NBA title. Leonard was not only named the offseason acquisition that would make the biggest impact, but is also the first player not named LeBron James to be named the league's best small forward since 2005.

In the Eastern Conference, the league's GMs like Giannis Antetokounmpo (the player that 86 percent of them would start a franchise with) and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were named the top team in the East by 76 percent of the respondents. Zion Williamson isn't only the pick to win Kia Rookie of the Year and be the best of his class in five years, but he was also named the league's most athletic player … before suiting up for an official NBA game.

The GMs responded to 50 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.

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PREDICTIONS    

Seventy-five percent of NBA's GMs think the Bucks will be in The 2020 Finals.

Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals?

1. LA Clippers -- 46%

2. Milwaukee Bucks -- 36%

3. Los Angeles Lakers -- 11%

Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers

Last year: Golden State – 87%

Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference

2019-20 GM Survey, Eastern Conference rankings

 Team1st2nd3rd4th%Total
1.Milwaukee76%21%----37%
2.Philadelphia24%62%7%4%30%
3.Boston--17%52%18%17%
4.Brooklyn----21%11%5%
 Toronto----14%25%5%
6.Indiana----7%21%3%
7.Miami------18%2%
8.Orlando------4%0%
%Total = Percentage of total points (4 for 1st place vote, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd, 1 for 4th)

Last year:  Ninety percent picked Boston to win the East. Order after the Celtics was Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami.

Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference

2019-20 GM Survey, Western Conference rankings
 Team1st2nd3rd4th%Total
1.LA Clippers66%17%10%4%34%
2.Denver3%28%28%25%18%
3.L.A. Lakers14%17%17%25%17%
4.Utah--21%34%11%14%
5.Houston7%17%7%25%12%
6.Golden State7%------3%
7.Portland3%----11%2%
8.San Antonio----3%--1%
%Total = Percentage of total points (4 for 1st place vote, 3 for 2nd, 2 for 3rd, 1 for 4th)

Last year:  Nintey percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, L.A. Lakers, Portland/San Antonio, and Denver.

 

 PLAYERS

More than half of NBA GMs think Giannis Antetokounmpo will win Kia MVP honors again.

Who will win the 2019-20 Kia MVP?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 52%

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10%

    Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers -- 10%

    Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 10%

5. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 7%

Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland

Last year: LeBron James – 30%

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 86%

2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 7%

    Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7%

Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 30%

Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?

1. James Harden, Houston -- 48%

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 17%
    LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 17%

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14%

5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 3%

Last year: LeBron James -- 60%

Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20?

1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 19%

2. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 11%

    Jayson Tatum, Boston -- 11%

4. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans -- 7%

    Jamal Murray, Denver -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Bam Adebayo, Miami; Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Zach Collins, Portland; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Julius Randle, New York; Tomas Satoransky, Chicago; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Zion Williamson, New Orleans

Last year: Jamal Murray -- 20% 

LeBron James was named among the top players at two different positions.

Who is the best point guard in the NBA?

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 90%

2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 7%

3. LeBron James, LA Lakers -- 3%

Last year: Stephen Curry -- 57%

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?

1. James Harden, Houston – 86%

2. Paul George, LA Clippers – 7%

Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Miami; Klay Thompson, Golden State

Last year: James Harden -- 73%

Who is the best small forward in the NBA?

1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 62%

2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 24%

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14%

Last year:  LeBron James -- 57%

Who is the best power forward in the NBA?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 59%

2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 28%

3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 10%

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3%

Last year: Anthony Davis --  37%

Who is the best center in the NBA?

1. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 48%

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia -- 28%

3. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 17%

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota

Last year: Anthony Davis -- 40%

 

OFFSEASON MOVES

Anthony Davis' move to the Lakers was one of the biggest of the offseason.

Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?

1. LA Clippers -- 82%

2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 11%

Also receiving votes: Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz

Last year: L.A. Lakers – 70%

Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?

1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 67%

2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 21%

3. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 12%

Last year: LeBron James -- 97%

What was the most underrated player acquisition?

1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 36%

2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah -- 14%

3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 11%
    Jerami Grant, Denver -- 11%

5. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Derrick Favors, New Orleans; Danny Green, L.A. Lakers; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City; J.J. Redick, New Orleans; Josh Richardson, Philadelphia

Last year:  Tyreke Evans -- 13%

Which team will be most improved in 2019-20?

1. Los Angeles Lakers -- 38%

2. Dallas Mavericks -- 21%

3. LA Clippers -- 10%

4. Atlanta Hawks -- 7%

    Brooklyn Nets -- 7%

    Chicago Bulls -- 7%

    New Orleans Pelicans -- 7%

8. New York Knicks -- 4%

Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 80%

What was the most surprising move of the offseason?

1. Paul George trade to LA Clippers -- 52%

2. Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade -- 28%

3. Nikola Mirotic to FC Barcelona -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana; Al Horford to Philadelphia; Kawhi Leonard to Clippers, Marcus Morris decommitting from San Antonio

Last year: DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State -- 35%


ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL

Zion Williamson (left) is among the top rookies to watch in the eyes of many GMs.

Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year?

1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68%

2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 29%

3. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 4%

Last year: Luka Doncic -- 43%

Which rookie will be the best player in five years?

1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68%

2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 18%

3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland

Last year: DeAndre Ayton & Jaren Jackson Jr. -- 27%

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?

1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans -- 32%

2. Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis -- 21%

3. Goga Bitadze (18), Indiana -- 11%

4. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 7%

    Tyler Herro (13), Miami -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Darius Bazley (23), Oklahoma City; Nicolas Claxton (31), Brooklyn; Daniel Gafford (38), Chicago; Darius Garland (5), Cleveland; Nasir Little (25), Portland; Cameron Reddish (10), Atlanta 

Last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 27%

Who is the best international player in the NBA?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 79%

2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 14%

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7%

Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 73%

Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA?

1. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona -- 55%

2. Nando de Colo, Fenerbahce -- 21%

3. Sergio Llull, Real Madrid -- 17%

Also receiving votes: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce

Last year:  Sergio Llull -- 39%

 

DEFENSE

Kawhi Leonard was tabbed by many NBA GMs as the league's top defender.

Who is the best defensive player in the NBA?

1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 45%

2. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 28%

3. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 10%

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 7%

    Paul George, LA Clippers -- 7%

6. Anthony Davis, LA Lakers -- 3%

Last year: Rudy Gobert & Kawhi Leonard -- 37%

Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?

1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 59%

2. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 21%

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; OG Anunoby, Toronto; Jimmy Butler, Miami; Jrue Holiday, New Orleans; LeBron James, LA Lakers; Klay Thompson, Golden State 

Last year: Kawhi Leonard -- 60%

Who is the best interior defender in the NBA?

1. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 93%

Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia

Last year: Rudy Gobert -- 80%

Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA?

1. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 38%

2. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 31%

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 21%

Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Paul George, LA Clippers; Pascal Siakam, Toronto

Last year: Draymond Green -- 53%

Which is the best defensive team in the NBA?

1. LA Clippers -- 52%

2. Utah Jazz -- 24%

3. Milwaukee Bucks -- 17%

4. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7%

Last year: Utah -- 45%


COACHES

Gregg Popovich took home two honors in the 2019-20 NBA.com GM Survey.

Who is the best head coach in the NBA?

1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 55%

2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 17%

3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 10%

4. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah

Last year: Brad Stevens -- 47%

Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?

1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 41%

2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 31%

3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 17%

Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Mike D'Antoni, Houston; Terry Stotts, Portland

Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 47%

Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments?

1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 28%

2. Brad Stevens, Boston -- 17%

3. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 14%

4. Steve Clifford, Orlando -- 10%

    Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10%

6. Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Michael Malone, Denver; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami 

Last year: Brad Stevens -- 53%

Which head coach runs the best offense?

1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 38%

2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 14%

    Mike D'Antoni, Houston -- 14%

    Terry Stotts, Portland -- 14%

5. Michael Malone, Denver -- 7%

    Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%

    Quin Snyder, Utah -- 7%

Last year: Steve Kerr -- 40%

Which head coach has the best defensive schemes?

1. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 28%

2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 24%

3. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7%

    Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 7%

    Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 7%

    Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 7%

    Brad Stevens, Boston -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Dwane Casey, Detroit; Steve Clifford, Orlando; Nick Nurse, Toronto

Last year: Quin Snyder -- 33%

Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team?

1. Monty Williams, Phoenix -- 43%

2. Frank Vogel, L.A. Lakers -- 21%

3. Luke Walton, Sacramento -- 18%

4. John Beilein, Cleveland -- 11%

5. Taylor Jenkins, Memphis -- 7%

Last year: N/A

Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA?

1. Dan Burke, Indiana -- 11%

    Chris Finch, New Orleans -- 11%

    David Vanterpool, Minnesota -- 11%

4. Darvin Ham, Milwaukee -- 7%

    Alex Jensen, Utah -- 7%

    Igor Kokoskov, Sacramento -- 7%

    Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers -- 7%

    Nate Tibbets, Portland -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Ron Adams, Golden State; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Chris Fleming, Chicago; Adrian Griffin, Toronto; Phil Handy, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, L.A. Lakers; Keith Smart, New York; Ime Udoka, Philadelphia

Last year: Ron Adams -- 17%

Which active player will make the best head coach someday?

1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 26%

2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 19%

3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 15%

4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 11%

Also receiving votes: Jalen Brunson, Dallas; Jared Dudley, L.A. Lakers; Andre Iguodala, Memphis; Kyle Korver, Milwaukee; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Doug McDermott, Indiana; Garrett Temple, Brooklyn; Lance Thomas, Brooklyn

Last year: Chris Paul -- 25%


MISCELLANEOUS

NBA GMs say Denver has both the best home-court advantage and the most fun team to watch.

Which team is the most fun to watch?

1. Denver Nuggets -- 31%

2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 21%

3. Golden State Warriors -- 17%

4. Milwaukee Bucks -- 10%

5. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings

Last year: Golden State -- 60%

Which team has the best home-court advantage?

1. Denver Nuggets -- 38%

2. Utah Jazz -- 24%

    Golden State Warriors -- 24%

4. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors

Last year: Golden State -- 50%

Which team has the most promising young core?

1. New Orleans Pelicans -- 28%

2. Denver Nuggets -- 24%

3. Atlanta Hawks -- 17%

4. Sacramento Kings -- 10%

5. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies

Last year: Philadelphia -- 47%

Which player is the most athletic?

1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 41%

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 28%

3. Aaron Gordon, Orlando -- 7%

    Derrick Jones Jr., Miami -- 7%

    Mitchell Robinson, New York -- 7%

    Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 7%

7. Zach LaVine, Chicago -- 3%

Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 48%

Which player is the best pure shooter?

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 86%

2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11%

3. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 4%

Last year: Stephen Curry -- 73%

Which player is the fastest with the ball?

1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 64% 

2. Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 25%

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn

Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 50%

Which player is best at moving without the ball?

1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 43%

2. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 25%

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 21%

4. Kyle Korver, Milwaukee -- 7%

5. C.J. McCollum, Portland -- 4%

Last year: Klay Thompson -- 53%

Which player is the best passer?

1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 57%

2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 32%

3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%

4. James Harden, Houston -- 4%

Last year: LeBron James -- 50%

What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game?

1. Lou Williams, LA Clippers -- 79%

2. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers -- 7%

    Fred VanVleet, Toronto -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn; Domantas Sabonis, Indiana

Last year: Lou Williams -- 41%

Who is the toughest player in the NBA?

1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City -- 32%

2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 18%

3. P.J. Tucker, Houston -- 14%

4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Aron Baynes, Phoenix; Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Joe Ingles, Utah; Damian Lillard, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Marcus Smart, Boston; Klay Thompson, Golden State

Last year: Steven Adams -- 33%

Damian Lillard hasn't gone unnoticed in the intangibles department by NBA GMs.

Which player is the best leader?

1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41%

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37%

3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15%

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City

Last year: LeBron James -- 30%

Who is the most versatile player in the NBA?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 46%

2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 39%

3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: Paul George, LA Clippers; Nikola Jokic, Denver

Last year: LeBron James -- 63%

Which player has the best basketball IQ?

1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 64%

2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 11%

3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%

    Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; Al Horford, Philadelphia; Andre Iguodala, Memphis

Last year: LeBron James -- 70%

Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 44%

2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 11%

    Damian Lillard, Portland -- 11%

    Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11%

5. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn -- 7%

    Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7%

Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers

Last year: Kevin Durant -- 40%

What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change?

1. Playoff seeding (1-16) -- 18%

2. Draft (Better combine or more medical info) -- 11%

    Draft Lottery -- 11%

    Free agency (Before Draft or no moratorium) -- 11%

    Schedule (Fewer games, no back-to-backs) -- 11%

Also receiving votes: Conference realignment, Draft one-and-done rule, Eliminate tanking, Extra foul in overtime, FIBA goaltending, Increased control of G League players, Instant replay, Midseason tournament, No FGA for half-court heaves, Roster size, Tampering

Last year: Playoff seeding – 18%

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

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