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NBA GMs predict Lakers to win title, Antetokounmpo to win MVP (again)

Michael Holley and Michael Smith look ahead to the 2020-21 NBA MVP race and share their picks.

With a short turnaround between seasons, NBA GMs surveyed the landscape and then predicted more of the same next season.

The annual NBA GM survey is out, and while it may not be the best predictor of the future — last season the Clippers were the title favorites with the Bucks second — it is a good snapshot of the thinking around the league.

That thinking has 81% of GMs predicting the Lakers would repeat as champions. The Clippers are second with 11% of the vote, and out of the East the Nets and Heat picked up votes. That said, 64% of GMs predict Milwaukee will finish with the No. 1 seed in the East, with the Nets second and Heat third.

The GMs also predict a repeat for Most Valuable Player — but it is very spread out. Giannis Antetokounmpo won with 32% of the vote, with potential first-time winners next in line: Luka Doncic (21%) and Anthony Davis (18%). The wide range of GM votes here reflect the wide-open MVP race this season.

Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball was the GM’s top pick to win Rookie of the Year, garnering 39% of the vote in another wide-open race. Golden State’s James Wiseman came in second (29%), followed by the Knicks Obi Toppin (18%). When GMs were asked which player from this draft class will be the best in five years, Wiseman jumped Ball in to the top spot, with No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards finishing third.

Other interesting notes from the GM Survey:

• What player would a GM want if he were starting a franchise today? Antetokounmpo and Doncic tied, each with 43% of the vote.
• Who is the best coach in the NBA, according to GMs? 1. Miami’s Erik Spoelstra got 46% of the vote after leading his team to the Finals. Toronto’s Nick Nurse and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich finished tied for second at 18%.
• What player is best poised for a breakout season? GMs picked the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr., both with 15%.
• What player forces the most adjustments from coaches? James Harden leads the list at 32%, followed by LeBron James at 29%.
• Who is the best defensive player in the NBA? Antetokounmpo won with 46% of the vote, followed by Anthony Davis at 21%.
• Which team had the best offseason? The Los Angeles Lakers won with 37% of the vote, followed by the Phoenix Suns at 22%.
• Gordon Hayward signing in Charlotte won the survey for the offseason’s most surprising move (54% of the vote).
• Which team has the most promising young core? New Orleans — with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram — ran away with the award getting 41% of the vote.
• What player would GMs want to take the game-winning shot for their team? Damian Lillard has done that for Portland more than once and has the trust of GMs, garnering 32% of the vote. Stephen Curry was second at 25%, followed by Kevin Durant at 18%.