The annual NBA General Manager Survey recently dropped, which contained 50 questions about various topics posed to every general manager. Check out below for ten key takeaways from the survey, including 2023 NBA Draft steals, staggering Victor Wembanyama praise, and confusing rule change priorities.
Clear Championship Trio
When asked which team will win the 2024 NBA Finals, a clear trio separated from the pack. The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Milwaukee Bucks combined for 89 percent of the points, which isn’t too surprising. Denver rosters the best player in the world and recently steamrolled through the playoffs. Boston added Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, while Milwaukee acquired All-NBA guard Damian Lillard.
The Phoenix Suns came in fourth at seven percent. They traded for former All-Star Bradley Beal and nicely rounded out the depth chart with quality pieces. Although the Suns are a step below these three teams, it’s entirely reasonable that Phoenix shoots its way to a championship.
2023 NBA Draft Sweet Spot
GM’s were asked which rookie was the biggest steal given where they were selected, and a clear chunk dominated. Keyonte George (16th), Jaime Jaquez Jr (18th), Brandin Podziemski (19th), and Cam Whitmore (20th) combined to receive 70 percent of the votes. The late teens apparently represented steals, and the pre-season has provided evidence supporting this notion.
Cam Whitmore in particular is the frontrunner for steal of the draft. He fell due to mysterious injury concerns, but the Villanova product looks completely healthy and dynamic. Whitmore led all rookies in this category at a whopping 43 percent of the votes.
Portland Trail Blazers Tremendous Off-Season
Portland finally ripped the Band-Aid off and traded franchise legend Damian Lillard. The team possessed miniscule championship equity, so it was time to begin a rebuild. NBA GM’s agreed, as the Blazers ranked third in best overall off-season moves behind Boston and Milwaukee.
They stole Scoot Henderson at third overall; he’s an exceptional point guard prospect that has All-NBA written all over him. Kris Murray will become an impactful two-way forward, and Rayan Rupert is a plus defender that could be a future rotation piece.
Meanwhile, the Blazers brought in Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, Toumani Camara, three first rounders, and two first round swaps. Portland’s center rotation actually has a pulse now, and they can flip Brogdon for even more picks. Overall, the Blazers’ direction is far brighter due to their excellent off-season.
OKC’s Elite Young Core
The Thunder kicked off a massive rebuild during the 2019 off-season when they dealt Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Jerami Grant for a historic haul. Four years later, and Oklahoma City clearly possesses the most promising young core according to GM’s. OKC received 73 percent of the votes, while Cleveland was second place at only 10 percent.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander earned All-NBA First Team honors last year through averages of 31.4 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren are all likely to make at least one All-Star appearance at some point in their careers, while the bench is riddled with impactful young players.
Plus, Sam Presti has 15 first round picks, 2 first round swaps, and 22 second round picks over the next 7 drafts.
OKC’s draft stash for the next 7 years:
– 1st Round, Rockets: Protected Top-4
– 1st Round, Jazz: Protected Top-10
– 1st Round, Thunder: Least favorable of Thunder’s first-round picks goes to Pacers
– 1st Round, Clippers
– 2nd Round, Rockets
– 1st Round,… pic.twitter.com/IA88GcosTQ
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) October 17, 2023
Victor Wembanyama Hype
Wembanyama is one of the greatest prospects in NBA history, and he has absolutely dazzled during the pre-season. GM’s are supremely jealous of the San Antonio Spurs – perhaps too much. They were asked which player they would start a franchise with today, and here are the results:
- Nikola Jokic (33%)
- Victor Wembanyama (23%)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (13%)
- Luka Doncic (10%)
- Anthony Edwards (7%)
Only reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic surpassed the 19-year-old 7’4” phenom. Considering that Wembanyama hasn’t played a single regular season game, it’s surprising that he went over former Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and superstar Luka Doncic, who ranks second all-time in playoff points per game behind only Michael Jordan.
In addition, Wembanyama received the most votes to win Rookie of the Year and to be the best rookie in five years. It’s clear that NBA GM’s are just as excited as fans about Wembanyama’s future.
Stephen Curry Praise
Although Curry’s age barred him from reaching the “start your franchise with” list, he’s still highly respected and productive. GM’s voted him the best pure shooter, the best at moving without the ball, the player they would most want taking a shot with the game on the line, and the second best leader behind LeBron James.
Curry shot an impressive 42.7 percent from deep on 11.4 attempts per game last season and led all guards in true shooting points added, which measures “the number of extra points added by true shot attempts made above league average” per Basketball Reference. The 35-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, which doesn’t bode well for opponents.
Chris Paul Intelligence
Paul is far past his physical prime, but he stills owns elite basketball instincts. GM’s ranked him third in basketball IQ, fourth in leadership, fourth in passing, and the active player that will make the best head coach someday.
Golden State routinely commits careless turnovers and hasn’t had a traditional floor general to run the bench unit. If Chris Paul can remain healthy, his superb basketball mind will help alleviate these flaws and boost Golden State’s championship equity. Unfortunately, avoiding injuries hasn’t been Paul’s strength in recent years.
Erik Spoelstra Coaching Genius
Spoelstra has shockingly never won the Coach of the Year award, but there is no doubt about his acumen. GM’s voted him the best overall head coach in the NBA, the best at managing and motivating people, the best at making in-game adjustments, and the head coach with the top defensive schemes.
Miami recently reached the NBA Finals as the eighth seed, and they have been to the Conference Finals in three of the past four years. Spoelstra’s coaching is assuredly a driving force behind Miami’s success and ability to overcome talent gaps. It will be needed this season, especially with Boston and Milwaukee significantly upgrading their rosters.
Excellent Kings Coaching Staff
Speaking of respected coaches, the Sacramento Kings’ coaching staff also graded highly. Head coach Mike Brown runs the top offense according to the votes, which is supported by the fact that Sacramento recorded the largest Offensive Rating in NBA history last season. Not bad for Mike Brown’s first season with the typically mediocre Kings.
Meanwhile, Jordi Fernandez clearly received the most votes for best assistant coach in the league. He’s a grizzled veteran that was on the infamous 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers’ coaching staff. Fernandez has a player development background, and it’s only a matter of time before a franchise makes him their head coach.
Player Participation Policy
When asked which change will require the biggest adjustment, the new player participation policy surprisingly triumphed. Essentially, it contains strict guidelines for resting star players and long-term shutdowns that ruin the competitive spirit of the sport. While it’s certainly a change, the fact that GM’s voted resting rules over the new tax apron restrictions is befuddling.
The new tax rules significantly hamper bloated franchises in terms of roster-building, fines, and draft order penalties. It will force teams to completely re-adjust their spending strategies and may restrict teams with numerous young stars that need large contracts. For example, the Thunder could face severe penalties when Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey, Williams, and Holmgren are all on expensive deals. Overall, the GM’s have surprising priorities based on the votes.