In NBA.com’s annual survey of all 30 of the league’s general managers, the defending champion Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics emerged as the co-favorites to win this year’s NBA title. This marks a significant shift from last year, where the Milwaukee Bucks led the pack with 43% of the vote. The Nuggets and Celtics each received 10 of the 30 votes, with the Milwaukee Bucks trailing behind with seven votes. The Phoenix Suns secured two votes, while the LA Clippers managed to grab a single vote.
Unsurprisingly, the Nuggets and Celtics were also chosen as the favorites to win their respective conferences. Out West, the Nuggets were selected as the team to beat, followed by the Phoenix Suns in second place. The Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Clippers, and Memphis Grizzlies rounded out the top six. In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics were predicted to dominate, with the Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, and Miami Heat following suit.
Nikola Jokic stood out as the top choice for the NBA’s MVP award, a sentiment echoed in ESPN.com’s annual offseason survey. Furthermore, Jokic was also the preferred pick by the league’s general managers to start a franchise with. In terms of breakout players, Anthony Edwards was projected to have a more promising season than Cade Cunningham. Meanwhile, Victor Wembanyama received recognition as both the Rookie of the Year and the most promising rookie five years from now.
The survey also included player rankings by position, with Stephen Curry earning the title of the league’s best point guard. Other notable rankings included Devin Booker at shooting guard, Jayson Tatum at small forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward, and Jokic at center. The only change from last year’s rankings was Tatum surpassing Kevin Durant. The perennially impressive Erik Spoelstra was once again honored as the NBA’s best coach, excelling in motivating players, making adjustments, and implementing defensive schemes. Mike Brown of the Sacramento Kings was recognized for skillfully running the best offense across the league.
The Celtics and Bucks were tied for having the best offseasons, with Damian Lillard’s addition to the Milwaukee Bucks being hailed as both the most surprising move of the summer and the one with the most significant impact. On the other hand, Marcus Smart’s move to the Memphis Grizzlies was identified as the most underrated acquisition.
This year, the Oklahoma City Thunder was chosen as the most improved team, boasting the best young core in the league. The Denver Nuggets were deemed the most entertaining team to watch, credited with having the best home-court advantage and the league’s most efficient offense. The Philadelphia 76ers, amidst the James Harden trade speculation, were regarded as the team with the most unpredictable outcome this season.
Among individual accolades, Ja Morant was recognized as the league’s most athletic player, while Curry was hailed as the best shooter, proficient in moving without the ball and being the go-to player in clutch moments. De’Aaron Fox received acknowledgment as the fastest player with the ball, and Jokic was lauded as the best passer and possessing the highest basketball IQ. Antetokounmpo was recognized as the most versatile player, and LeBron James earned the prestigious title of being the league’s best leader.
In terms of rule changes, the new player participation policy governing player resting took precedence as the most significant adjustment for teams this season. This change narrowly surpassed the new luxury tax rules introduced in the collective bargaining agreement, with the inaugural in-season tournament following behind.
As the NBA season gets underway, the general managers’ survey provides valuable insight into the league’s top contenders, player expectations, and rule changes. It sets the stage for an exhilarating season filled with fierce competition, breakout performances, and captivating storylines. Only time will reveal how these predictions and projections play out on the court.
Source : ESPN.com