Every year before the start of the NBA season, NBA.com polls GMs from across the league about a variety of topics. Everything from which team will win the Finals to who the toughest player in the league is. Those polls were released this week, and while some of the choices are quite obvious, there’s still some interesting things to wade through here.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the poll:
The Spurs are 2nd in the West hierarchy, behind Golden State and ahead of the Clippers
76.7% of GMs polled believe that the Spurs, as currently constructed, will finish no lower than 2nd in the West. This has been the consensus among various talking-heads in the media. The addition of a top-3 player in Kevin Durant to a 73-win juggernaut makes the Warriors the obvious pick for the #1 seed, but 2nd in the West isn’t half bad when you consider all the roster moves that San Antonio just made this past summer.
Kawhi Leonard got a lot of love, but did he deserve more?
Kawhi got votes for a variety of categories. 66.7% of NBA GMs believe that Leonard is the best overall defender in the Association coming into the season, as well as the best perimeter defender. Kawhi also received votes for being one of the best interior defenders as well.
Voters were asked who the toughest player in the NBA was and Kawhi came in second, behind only Tony Allen. For a player that says very little on the court, I thought this was one of the more surprising placings on the poll, but one that I agreed with. Kawhi also got votes for one player that you could start a franchise with and most versatile player.
Shockingly, Kawhi’s name was left entirely off the MVP voting. Coming off a career year where finished second in MVP voting, he won his second DPOY trophy, led his team in scoring, made 1st Team All-NBA and All-Defense, and was the best player on a team that won a franchise-record 67 games, you would have thought he would have been shown a bit more respect.
Surely, this will bother Kawhi none and he will just go out and do what he does best every single night.
Gregg Popovich is revered by rival GMs (Shocking? Not at all)
Pop did very well when it came to polling coaches. He was voted the best overall coach in the league once again (66.7%), was voted the best manager and motivator of people, and finished second in the following categories:
Best at in-game adjustments (31.0%, behind Rick Carlisle)
Who runs the best offense? (16.7%, behind Steve Kerr)
Best defensive schemes? ( 33.3%, behind Thibs, who didn’t coach last season)
Long Live Coach Pop.
Tim Duncan got votes
This was the best, the absolute best. Tim Duncan, who retired this offseason, who has been showing up to practices:
Another Tim Duncan appearance today at Spurs practice. pic.twitter.com/iWJXvsnA05— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 17, 2016
Tim Duncan, who was recently designated the “Coach of whatever he feels like,” per Pop, received votes for best leader in the NBA. The guy isn’t even in the league anymore, yet he still got votes? That’s some serious admiration for a guy that we all miss very much around here. It’s good to know that Big Fun is still respected, even though his playing days are over.
Golden State will win the 2017 NBA Finals in a rubber match against Cleveland
Only two teams even received votes in this category. 69% of GMs believe the Warriors will win the NBA title, while 31% said it will be Cleveland. They aren’t even giving anyone else a chance this season of claiming the Larry O’Brien at the end of the season, let alone being able to actually participate in the Finals for a chance at it. Will we get a rubber match between the King and the Warriors or can someone play spoiler?