New year, new annual NBA.com GM Survey, polling results from general managers in front offices across the league on their overall thoughts on the upcoming NBA season. The Boston Celtics received a lot of love this season, and in particular, Brad Stevens got quite a bit of recognition in a crowded field.
Last year, when posed the question, “Who is the best head coach in the NBA?” Brad Stevens received not a single vote. Gregg Popovich won with 82% of the votes, and Steve Kerr took home 11%. This year, however, Brad Stevens received 47% of the votes for the same question, with Gregg Popovich getting 30% of the votes in second place. Stevens also took home 53% of the votes for “Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments?” which put him on top of all other candidates in that category.
But wait, there’s more. Stevens came in 3rd place with 17% of the votes for “Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?” In response to “Which head coach runs the best offense?” Brad Stevens came in 3rd place again in with 20% of the votes. Coming off of last season’s #1 ranked defense in the NBA, Brad Stevens came in second place in “Which head coach has the best defensive schemes?” with 30% of the votes behind Quin Snyder’s 33%.
This is notable as some, myself include, felt that Stevens was snubbed both in the NBA’s Coach of the Year award (awarded to Dwane Casey) and the peer Coach of the Year award (also awarded to Dwane Casey).
Stevens was a finalist for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award along with Quin Snyder, but the majority of voters opted to give Casey their vote after his work with the #1 seeded Toronto Raptors. Dwane Casey is now the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. I’ll let you fill in the gaps there.
Surely, you readers are familiar with Brad Stevens work last year as the Celtics’ roster fell apart injury by injury as the year progressed. The team won 55 games and made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference, just minutes away from an NBA Finals berth without Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving.
With both of these players returning and the team at full health, the Celtics enter this season with much more recognition this year than last. In addition to Brad Stevens’ praise in the 17th annual GM Survey, Boston came in second place behind Golden State in “Which team will win the 2019 NBA Finals?” 90% of the NBA’s general managers also believe that the Celtics will finish the regular season at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Jayson Tatum tied for 2nd place in the “Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2018-19” category coming off of his rookie postseason in which he led an Eastern Conference Finalist team in scoring at just 20 years old (he’s not 19 anymore). Kyrie Irving tied with Chris Paul in 3rd place with 10% of the votes in response to “Who is the best point guard in the NBA?” while also receiving votes in “best pure shooter” and ranking #3 in “fastest with the ball.”
Robert Williams III did not receive a single vote for “Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?” Marcus Smart did not receive a vote for “Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?” though he did receive votes for “Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA?” Sticking with defense, the general managers voted Boston (17%) as the second-best defensive team in the NBA behind the Utah Jazz (45%).
General managers seem to think that the Celtics also offer much in the way of entertainment value. In the “Which team is the most fun to watch?” category, the Celtics placed #2 behind the Warriors. They also placed second behind the Philadelphia 76ers in “Which team has the most promising young core?” while also receiving votes for best home-court advantage.
If you’re looking for general managers to definitively pick between Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, you’re out of luck. They tied for 3rd (17%) in “Which bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game.”
For those convinced that Marcus Smart is “bout that life,” he ranked #3 in the “toughest player” category, with Aron Baynes also receiving votes. Al Horford, team dad, finished tied for 4th place with Damian Lillard in “Which player is the best leader?” behind LeBron James, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. Horford also received votes in the “highest basketball IQ” category.
Which player would you want taking the last shot with the game on the line? 10% of general managers would prefer Kyrie Irving as he finished 4th place in that category behind Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
TL;DR: the Boston Celtics are popular again, at least among NBA general managers. The fact that this post is so long is a good indication of where the team stands entering the season. Although preseason results are up and down so far, teams around the league have a high opinion of the Celtics heading into this year as a Finals contender.
Is this the year when Brad Stevens finally gets awarded Coach of the Year? Check back here in June.