The NBA GM survey results came out and are oh so fun to read. Obviously, we really have to take the answers with a grain of salt because who knows how much thought was put into them. It's always nice, though, to get a glimpse into the mind of the people in charge of running basketball operations for NBA franchises. So let's start.
Pop is still the best coach in the league
Just like last season, everybody signaled Pop as the best in the game. Popovich received 75.9% of the votes for Best Coach in the League, 51.7% in the Best Motivator category, 27.6% for Who Makes the Best In-game Adjustments and 47.9% for Who Runs the Best Offense. The only coaching category Pop lost was Who Runs the Best Defense, to Tom Thibodeau, but still got votes on that question.
The league clearly feels Pop is unrivaled when it comes to running a team and it's really not hard to see why. I mentioned the last time I talked about it that Pop was probably overrated around the league, as the difference in perception between him and other coaches seemed a little too great and his good traits exaggerated. But the Spurs have successfully evolved over the past couple of years to a place of legitimate balance and cohesiveness, with Pop being a big part of that. Even if it was probably aided by him being the easy choice since other veteran coaches like George Karl and Rick Adelman are now struggling to find success, his ranking seems well deserved.
The one category that could possibly prove to be the most controversial for Spurs fans might be Pop winning for best in-game adjustments. It seems to vindicate Pop after a lot of people second-guessed the benching of Duncan in the final stretch of Game 6. I'm assuming everyone witnessed that adjustment being made and they're not as critical of it as some Spurs fans are. The reality is the decision will divide fans for years, as it made complete sense from a theoretical standpoint, but the guy sent to the bench was Tim freaking Duncan.
Timmy got the respect he deserves but what about Parker?
Speaking of Timmy, his amazing season didn't go unnoticed by GMs. He was voted as the best power forward in the league with 31% of the votes and received the third-most votes as the best center in the league with 10.3%. Timmy also received votes on highest BBIQ as well as best overall defensive player and best interior defender. But more impressively, he dethroned Chris Paul as best leader, receiving 30% of the votes. After being considered an afterthought last season, Timmy is back to being properly appreciated, at least by the higher-ups of the franchises. The Spurs should really explore trading him, as his value is sky high right now!
Tony Parker also received some love. He was widely regarded as the best international player in the league (53.3%) and received votes on Fastest with the Ball, Best Finisher at the Rim, Best Leader, and Player that Forces the Most Adjustments from Opposing Coaches. Surprisingly though, he ranked as the third-best point guard in the league, below Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. Those two certainly are great players and a convincing case can be made for each being better than Parker but what struck me as strange was the wide margin. Paul received 70% of the votes, Derrick Rose 20% and Parker only 10%. That means 20 GMs ranked Paul ahead of Parker and six considered Rose better. It's possible those that rank others in front of Parker don't really think there is a wide gap between them, but I thought the vote would be closer.
Kawhi Leonard and the rest
The other five Spurs players to receive votes in any category were Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Matt Bonner, Marco Belinelli and surprisingly, Nando De Colo. Green and Bonner got votes as the Players that Make the Most out of Limited Natural Ability, which makes sense. Belinelli was considered an underrated signing. Manu ranked third with 10% of the votes in the Who Moves the Best Without the Ball category, and was mentioned in response to the question "Who would GMs want taking a shot with the game on the line". De Colo, meanwhile, received a vote as a Likely Breakout Candidate among international players, so I'm not so crazy after all. The two of us are pulling for you, Nando!
Leonard got votes in several categories. He wasn't close to winning anything but he was considered as a Likely Breakout Candidate, Best Overall Defensive Player in the League, Best Perimeter Defender, and Toughest Player -- not bad for the 22-year-old. Clearly his performance in the Finals earned him some well deserved recognition. Don't be surprised if next year he ranks higher in some of those categories or becomes a mainstay in the Best Perimeter Defender conversation.
Miami is the favorite again. And could the Rockets win the SW?
As for the team expected to win it all? GMs overwhelmingly picked Miami again, but the Spurs ranked second, tied with the Pacers. 40% of the voters think the good guys will come out of the West despite only 70% - down from 96.7% last year - thinking they will win the Southwest Division. The Rockets are an alluring pick but it's hard to see them meshing quickly enough to get more Ws than the Spurs after so many seismic shifts. Stranger things have happened, I guess. Speaking of which, the Spurs actually received votes in the Most Fun to Watch category despite only attempting five alley-oops on the last two seasons. Everyone knows alley-oops = fun, so this really makes no sense.
Head over to NBA.com and read the whole thing because it really is interesting. It's possible that some low-level employee actually filled this out but it's more fun to pretend GMs really took it seriously and gave a lot of thought to their answers. Hopefully whoever did respond will look foolish for not picking the Spurs to win it all.
More from Pounding The Rock:
- Game React: Spurs roll Magic 123-101
- Morning Rehash: Kawhi leads as Spurs bully Magic
- 30 preseason predictions: Charlotte Bobcats
- Preseason recap: Spurs roll over Magic, 123-101
- Case closed: Bill Simmons finds the Spurs boring