Annual NBA GM survey: Bulls squarely behind Cavs in East


Annual NBA GM survey: Bulls squarely behind Cavs in East

The NBA GM survey is, simply put, a must-read every year. NBA's John Schuhmann compiles votes from each of the 30 NBA general managers on 49 different questions pertaining to the league.

Still, the survey is hardly fail-proof, and plenty changes in the course of a calendar year. Consider that last season Joakim Noah was voted the best defensive player in the NBA, Doug McDermott was voted the draft's second biggest steal at No. 11, and Jimmy Butler received zero votes when the 30 GMs were asked which played was most likely to have a breakout campaign; six months later he hoisted the NBA's Most Improved Player award.

Below are the questions in which the Bulls or a player from the Bulls received votes. Here's a link to the entire survey and its results. Again, it's must-read stuff every year.

Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th % Total
Cleveland 96.6%       38.9%
Chicago 3.4% 65.5% 13.8% 6.9% 24.7%
Atlanta   13.8% 34.5% 17.2% 12.8%
Miami   13.8% 20.7% 31.0% 11.5%
Washington   3.4% 24.1% 17.2% 7.6%
Toronto     6.9% 10.3% 2.4%
Milwaukee   3.4%   10.3% 2.1%

Analysis: Few surprises here. Despite their myriad injuries, the Cavaliers are the unquestioned favorites in the East. In fact, more than half the voters (53.6%) chose the Cavaliers to win the 2015-16 NBA title. The Bulls received zero votes in that category, with San Antonio, Golden State and Oklahoma City rounding out the list. Miami brought back Goran Dragic, gets back Chris Bosh and looks primed to contend with Atlanta, Washington and Toronto for the No. 3 seed in the East. Milwaukee is only getting better, though it's a stretch to consider them the second best team in the East.

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?

1. James Harden, Houston (79.3%)
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State (10.3%)
Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Chicago; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City

Analysis: What a year for Butler, who 12 months ago couldn't find his name anywhere on this list, let alone receiving a vote over Harden and Thompson as the game's best shooting guard.

What was the most surprising move of the offseason?

Also receiving votes: Tom Thibodeau fired

Analysis: Fair to assume Gar Forman didn't submit his vote for this one. Thibodeau's firing was the only of the 10 "moves" that was not player-related. DeAndre Jordan flip-flopping back to the Clippers received 24.1 percent of the vote, while Greg Monroe bypassing larger markets for Milwaukee received 20.7 percent of the vote.

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the draft?

1. Justise Winslow (10), Miami (31.0%)
2. Bobby Portis (22), Chicago (24.1%)
3. Emmanuel Mudiay (7), Denver (20.7%)
4. Myles Turner (11), Indiana (6.9%)

Analysis: Gar Forman and Fred Hoiberg meant it on draft night when they said they were shocked Portis was available at No. 22. The SEC Player of the Year has shown why in preseason, too, averaging 12.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game. He may not show it in Year 1 because of the Bulls' depth, but Portis absolutely was a steal so late in the draft.

Who is the best international player in the NBA?

1. Marc Gasol, Memphis (62.1%)
2. Pau Gasol, Chicago (17.2%)
3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (10.3%)
4. Tony Parker, San Antonio (6.9%)
5. Goran Dragic, Miami (3.4%)

Analysis: Spain, led by the Gasol brothers (and Nikola Mirotic), was also selected as the country most likely to challenge the U.S. for an Olympic/World Cup gold medal in the next 10 years. Marc and Pau had similar years in 2014-15, with both earning All-NBA First Team honors. The rankings here aren't surprising, however, considering Marc (30) is five years younger than Pau (35).

Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?

1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (44.8%)
2. Tony Allen, Memphis (17.2%)
3. Jimmy Butler, Chicago (10.3%)
3. LeBron James, Cleveland (10.3%)

Analysis: More stellar company for Butler to be placed in, trailing only the Defensive Player of the Year in Leonard and a perennial All-NBA Defensive Team defender in Allen in this category. Earning as many votes as the world's best player is never a bad thing, either.

Which is the best defensive team in the NBA?

1. Golden State (58.6%)
2. Memphis (34.5%)
Also receiving votes: Chicago, Cleveland

Analysis: The Thibs effect? A year ago the Bulls were the overwhelming favorite in this category, earning nearly 86 percent of the vote. Chicago, however, ranked just 11th in defensive efficiency (the first time it had ranked outside the top-5 under Thibodeau) and replaced Thibodeau with the offensive-minded Fred Hoiberg. Still, with Butler, Noah and Gasol in the mix, the Bulls should remain in the top half of the league in defense this upcoming year.

Which new (or relocated) coach will make the biggest impact this season?

1. Alvin Gentry, New Orelans (32.1%)
2. Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City (28.6%)
3. Fred Hoiberg, Chicago (17.9%)
4. Scott Skilss, Orlando (10.7%)
5. George Karl, Sacramento (7.1%)
6. Mike Malone, Denver (3.6%)

Analysis: The three coaches who enter jobs with contending teams lead the way, with Gentry expected to help take Anthony Davis to the next level of super-stardom in New Orleans. Oklahoma City has had a championship-caliber roster for years, never being able to get over the hump with Scott Brooks, giving Billy Donovan an excellent chance to do just that with a healthy Kevin Durant. Hoiberg, meanwhile, will look to give the Bulls a distinct offensive identity as they try and figure out a way to get past LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Who is the best assistant in the NBA?

Also receiving votes: Jim Boylen, Chicago

Analysis: Boylen is regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the NBA, having been a part of Indiana's league-best defensive units as well as the perennially-solid Spurs defenses the last two years.

Which active player will make the best head coach someday?

Also receiving votes: Kirk Hinrich, Chicago

Analysis: Hinrich received votes in this category for the second consecutive offseason, though he said last year he has no plans to go into coaching once his career is over.

Miscellaneous categories:

Jimmy Butler received votes as the player who moves best without the ball; Nikola Mirotic received votes as the bench player who makes the biggest impact when he enters the game; both Butler and Joakim Noah received votes as the league's toughest players

Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin weighs in on Bulls-Cavs
Kurt Helin isn't confident 2015 is the year the Bulls get past LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs, but is looking forward to Fred Hoiberg's modern, motion offense that should be entertaining to watch.

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Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls


Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.