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NBA GMs predict Nets vs. Lakers Finals, Kevin Durant as MVP

Michael Holley welcomes Nekias Duncan to discuss cases of resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine in the NBA and the chances that Kyrie Irving chooses to stay unvaccinated and miss Brooklyn Nets home games.

NBA GMs tend not to be great prognosticators: Last season, they picked the Lakers to win the title, the year before that it was the Clippers. Last year they thought Giannis Antetokounmpo would three-peat as MVP, although they did get LaMelo Ball as Rookie of the Year right.

The annual NBA GM survey is not something you should race off to Las Vegas with, but it is a good picture of the conventional wisdom around the league. So who did the GMs pick in this year’s survey?

They expect the Brooklyn Nets to win it all, garnering 72% of the vote (this was before the drama around Kyrie Irving ramped up). The Lakers were second (17%), suggesting a Nets vs. Lakers Finals (which is what the oddsmakers expect as well). Milwaukee got 10% of the vote to repeat.

Kevin Durant is the GM’s favorite to win MVP with 37% of the vote, but Luka Doncic is a close second at 33%. Doncic also won the vote for “player you most want to build a franchise around” with 43% of the vote, just edging out Antetokounmpo (40%).

According to the GMs, the Rookie of the Year race should be close, with the Rockets’ Jalen Green the projected winner garnering 47% of the GM vote, but No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham was second with 40%. When asked who will be the best player from this class five years from now, GMs backed Evan Mobley (33% of the vote, with Cunningham second at 30%). Jalen Suggs, who fell to the No. 5 pick with Orlando, was the GM’s pick as the steal of the draft.

Best players in the NBA by position according to the GMs: Point guard, Stephen Curry; shooting guard, James Harden; small forward, Kevin Durant; power forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo; center, Nikola Jokic. The reason LeBron James is not on this list is his versatility, he was fourth in point guard voting and second at both forward positions.

Antetokounmpo was voted the best overall defensive player in the NBA by the GMs. Jrue Holiday was picked as the best perimeter defensive player (50% of the vote) and Rudy Gobert as the best interior defender (77% of the vote).

The GMs said the Miami Heat had the best offseason of any team (47% of the vote) and that their acquisition of Kyle Lowry was the best offseason move of any team. Those same GMs projected the Heat to finish third in the East. The most surprising offseason move was Russell Westbrook to the Lakers (50% of the vote). The most underrated offseason acquisition? Larry Nance Jr. to Portland, according to the GMs.

Check out the entire survey to get a sense of where league officials see things heading into the season.