For the twelfth straight year, NBA.com polled the league’s general managers to help select the best players, teams, up-and-comers, coaches, shooters, and anything else you can think of in all of basketball. The whole thing is worth checking out; 56 separate questions were covered, and rather than just reprinting all the results here (okay fine, we’re reprinting the predictions below because, why not?), we figured we’d highlight some of the notable picks, and offer our takes.
But before we get there, rest assured LeBron is expected to win his fifth MVP Award with 69% of the vote, he’s the league’s best small forward. . .and the third best power forward. Tim Duncan, meanwhile, is both the best power forward and the third best center. Chris Paul remains the best point guard in an era with an embarrassment of talent at the position (Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker,Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Derron Williams), and Victor Oladipo will win Rookie of the Year. Check back later this week for our own predictions.
GM SURVEY PREDICTIONS
Which team will win the Atlantic Division?
1. Brooklyn - 75.9%
2. New York - 24.1%
MAXIM’S TAKE: The battle for the Big Apple took a big swing Brooklyn’s way with the offseason trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The question is how much the future Hall-of-Famers have left in the tank. Actually, that’s not the only question. Can Jason Kidd coach? Can Derron Williams return to elite status? How many Honey Nut Cheerios signs will be in the Barclay’s Center stands when the Knicks finally cross the river? As for the Knicks, any team with Metta World Peace and J.R. Smith on it will be nothing if not interesting.
Which team will win the Central Division?
1. Indiana - 51.7%
2. Chicago - 48.3%
MAXIM’S TAKE: Last year, even without Derrick Rose running the show, the Bulls – and coach Tom Thibodeau’s stifling D – were a force to be reckoned with. If Rose is healthy, and the Pacers don’t see big improvement from the likes of Hibbert and George. . .well, this could go either way, just like the GMs think!
Which team will win the Southeast Division?
1. Miami -100%
MAXIM’S TAKE: What, no love for the Bobcats? At this point the best the rest of the division can hope for is the prospect of Andrew Wiggins in their uniform next year.
Which team will win the Southwest Division?
1. San Antonio - 70.0%
2. Houston - 30.0%
MAXIM’S TAKE: So long as Gregg Popovich is at the helm, Tim Duncan is playing like his 27-year-old self, and Tony Parker is competing for the title of best point guard in the game, the Spurs remain contenders. And while that Rockets team should be fun, it’s gotta chap the Grizzlies’ collective ass not to get a little more support, seeing as they made the Conference Finals a year ago. Z-Bo won’t be happy.
Which team will win the Northwest Division?
1. Oklahoma City - 96.6%
2. Denver - 3.4%
MAXIM’S TAKE: Sure, OKC has the world’s second best player in Kevin Durant, and a healthy Westbrook isn’t that far behind, but can you imagine if they’d never traded James Harden away? That’s a stronger big three than Miami’s. As for Denver, they’ll be worth watching if only for the Javale McGee-Kenneth Faried show.
Which team will win the Pacific Division?
1. L.A. Clippers - 89.7%
2. Golden State - 10.3%
MAXIM’S TAKE: First of all: no Lakers! That shouldn’t be a surprise, but damned if it hasn’t been a long time since they fell off our radar. The Clippers upgraded at coach (which was basically impossible not to do after Vinny Del Negro) and the addition of sharpshooters like J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley should give the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin tandem the space they need to score boatloads of points. Still, as fun as they’ll be to watch, the Steph Curry-led Warriors could be the most entertaining team in the league.
Which team will win the Eastern Conference?
1. Miami - 86.2%
2. Indiana - 10.3%
3. Chicago - 3.4%
MAXIM’S TAKE: In the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Pacers gave the Heat all they could handle. Unless Greg Oden possesses Wolverine-like healing powers, the Heat have no real answer to Roy Hibbert, and if Paul George continues to progress, he could be the one guy in the league capable of shutting down King James. Still, the East is the Heat’s to lose.
Which team will win the Western Conference?
1. San Antonio - 40.0%
2. Oklahoma City - 36.7%
3. L.A. Clippers - 20.0%
4. Houston - 3.3%
MAXIM’S TAKE: Can you say “competitive balance”? The West is wide open, and this list doesn’t even include the Grizzlies, or the “can’t take your eyes off ‘em” Golden State Warriors. The real x-factor is how Houston is able to integrate Dwight Howard, because with James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, they should be dangerous. Otherwise, 2013-14 is looking a lot like the last few seasons.
Which team will win the 2014 NBA Finals?
1.Miami - 75.9%
2.Indiana and San Antonio - 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Chicago, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City
MAXIM’S TAKE: That the Heat are favored to three-peat isn’t a huge surprise, but the fact that they received over three quarters of the votes is. After all, the Spurs were less than a minute from taking the title last year, and the Bulls didn’t have Derrick Rose. Remember him? Pretty good player.
Photos by Issac Baldizon/ Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013