The 2017-2018 NBA season has yet to officially begin but the league’s general managers have already decided who they think will win the most coveted awards this year.
The two-peat seeking Golden State Warriors, NBA superstar LeBron James, and rookie phenom Lonzo Ball head this year’s list of potential winners, as voted upon by the general managers in their yearly preseason survey.
According to Bleacher Report, the Warriors got 93 percent of the votes while the Cleveland Cavaliers got the remaining seven percent. The Warriors were also chosen the most fun to watch team. The Cavaliers won’t go home empty-handed; however, as its franchise player received the most votes for the Most Valuable Player award.
LeBron got the nod of 50 percent of the NBA general managers while Kevin Durant of the Warriors received 29 percent of the votes. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is at third place with 11 percent while James Harden of the Houston Rockets was at third with seven percent. Former MVP Stephen Curry, also of the Warriors, rounded out the top five vote-getters with four percent. Interestingly, reigning MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t crack the top five.
Another interesting tidbit about this annual survey is that the NBA general managers have voted LeBron to be the MVP for six consecutive years now. The last time LeBron actually won the Maurice Prodoloff Trophy was after the 2012-13 NBA season. LeBron was also chosen as the best leader, most versatile, and the player with the highest basketball IQ.
Rookie Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers figures to help alleviate the pain of losing $500,000 in fine for tampering if he proves the NBA general managers right. The general managers voted for Lonzo to take home the top rookie award this season.
Lonzo received 62 percent of the votes while Ben Simmons, last year’s top NBA draft pick, got 24 percent. Seven percent of the general managers though Dallas spitfire Dennis Smith, Jr., who was also voted top steal of the draft, will win the Rookie of the Year award.
De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum received a few votes while Markelle Fultz, the top pick this year, failed to get a single vote from the general managers.
Twenty-one percent of the general managers believe Fultz will be the best player from this year’s NBA draft in five years time. That puts him in second place behind Josh Jackson of the Phoenix Suns, who got 24 percent of the votes. Tatum tied Fultz with 21 percent while Lonzo and Simmons got 14 percent.
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves beat Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks as the player the general managers would pick to start a franchise today. Towns won with 29 percent of the votes while Giannis was a close second at 21 percent. LeBron placed third (18 percent), followed by Leonard (14 percent), and Durant (11 percent).
Towns was also chosen as the best center and most likely to have a breakout season. Curry (point guard), Harden (shooting guard), LeBron (small forward), and Anthony Davis (power forward) of New Orleans were also voted the best players at their respective positions.
The NBA general managers also believe Paul George, now with the Thunder, is the off-season acquisition who will have the biggest impact for their new team. Jimmy Butler (Minnesota), Chris Paul (Houston), and Kyrie Irving (Boston) got the next three spots. Oklahoma City also got the best overall off-season moves after getting George and Carmelo Anthony.
As for the most surprising off-season move, 45 percent of the general managers voted for the Boston-Cleveland trade, which saw Irving going to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and other pieces. The George-to-OKC trade got 24 percent while the trade of CP3 to Houston received 14 percent. SB Nation found it unsurprising that some general managers thought the signing of Tim Hardaway Jr. by the New York Knicks to the tune of $71 million was quite surprising.
The NBA general managers also thought the playoff seeding is one rule that drastically needs to be changed. The draft lottery,meanwhile, got second place. Incidentally, the next NBA draft will utilize a different format allowing the three most unsuccessful teams equal chances to get the top pick.
Other top vote-getters in this year’s preseason survey are Leonard for Best Defender, Spurs’ Gregg Popovich for Best Head Coach, Curry for Best Shooter, LeBron for Best Passer, and Antetokounmpo for Best International Player. Check out other results of the survey here.
[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]