I love John Schuhmann’s annual NBA GM survey. It signals that the season will tip off soon, and it’s always interesting getting insight from the 30 front offices.
Are the survey respondents sifting through “cleaning the glass” trying to determine which player makes the most impact, or painstakingly watching film to figure out which coach runs the best offensive schemes? Very unlikely. In many cases, I doubt it’s the top decision-maker who’s answering these questions.
Nonetheless, the survey provides a snapshot of public opinion heading into each NBA season. Sometimes, it’s more interesting seeing what they got wrong in previous years. Last year, 72 percent picked the Nets to win the title and 80 percent said the Lakers would win the west. And from the 2017 rookie class, Josh Jackson was supposed to be the best player in five years (remember the Celtics briefly considered drafting him over Tatum?).
Here’s how the Celtics fared in the survey:
•11 percent of front offices believe Celtics will win NBA title (finishing fourth behind the Bucks, Warriors, and Clippers) while 45 percent think they’ll finish second in East
•24 percent say Jayson Tatum is the best small forward in the NBA
•Boston received only one vote for best overall offseason moves. It’s funny how things change over the course of a month. A Tim Bontemps offseason survey from late August found that the Celtics had the best offseason... what a month it’s been for this franchise
•28 percent say Malcolm Brogdon was the most underrated player acquisition
•41 percent say Marcus Smart is the best perimeter defender in the NBA… but he got no votes for best defensive player, while guys he finished ahead of in the perimeter defender category (Jrue Holliday, Andrew Wiggins, Ben Simmons) got votes for best defensive player... can someone explain to me how Ben Simmons made this list?
•69 percent believe Celtics are the best defensive team, first place by a wide margin
•Malcolm Brogdon got a vote for “Which active player will make the best head coach someday?”… somewhere Grant Williams is livid
•Tied for second, 17 percent believe the Celtics have the best home court advantage
•7 percent said Ime Udoka had the best defensive schemes... maybe it would be higher if, you know, he wasn’t suspended for the entire season
•Boston didn’t finish in the top three for team most fun to watch
As Schuhmann states in his opening blurb, this is the first time in 13 years that a team hasn’t received over 50 percent of the votes to win the title. The Bucks finished first with 43 percent, and 55 percent of the respondents selected Giannis for “If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?”
Luka Doncic finished first (48 percent) to win MVP, followed by Giannis, Embiid, and Curry (bulletin board material for Tatum?). 41 percent said Cleveland made the best moves of the offseason and 47 percent said the Gobert trade was the most surprising move. The last question, pertaining to rule changes, found 14 percent wanting free agency before the draft, an idea that’s gained traction over the past five years (which Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren has been campaigning for).