The NBA conducted its yearly GM survey ahead of the 2023-24 season, and the Boston Celtics made a heavy imprint throughout.
First and foremost, the Celtics tied with the Denver Nuggets as the team GMs believe is most likely to win the 2024 NBA Championship, with both teams receiving 33% of the votes. The Milwaukee Bucks (23%), Phoenix Suns (7%), and LA Clippers (3%) also got some love.
Boston was also dubbed as the best team in the Eastern Conference, earning 53% of those votes, with Milwaukee getting 43%. Those two numbers were flipped for who GMs believe is second-best, with the only other team receiving first and second-place votes being the Miami Heat.
GMs’ fondness for the Celtics likely has to do with their star-studded offseason, but the player leading the charge in Boston is a guy who’s been around far longer.
Jayson Tatum landed third in the GM poll for the 2024 MVP. He got 13% of the votes, while Nikola Jokic (43%) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (20%) landed first and second.
Tatum also received a vote for the player whom GMs would most want to build a team around, though he fell under the “others receiving votes” category. Jokic (33%) also won that vote, with San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama finishing second (23%).
The votes for the top player by position were skewed, as GMs could vote for any player to be the best at any position. For example, Tatum received a vote for the best shooting guard in the league.
That said, Tatum won GMs over as the best small forward in the NBA, nabbing 47% of the votes and dethroning Kevin Durant, whose percentage of votes fell from 45% last year to just 20%. Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic may have had a shot, as he landed third with 17%, but he also got 27% of the votes for best point guard and 7% for best shooting guard.
Tatum tied for fifth for the most votes across positions with 10%.
Boston’s busy summer has them pegged as a title favorite, and that sentiment was reflected in GMs’ votes for which team had the best offseason. The Celtics tied with the Bucks in that regard, both getting 23% of the votes. The Portland Trail Blazers, who landed Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams, and two firsts in the Jrue Holiday trade with Boston, came in third with 17%.
As far as the players Boston received, both were represented in the question, “Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?” Holiday got 13% of the votes, while Porzingis got 7%, good for second and fourth (tied), respectively. Damian Lillard topped the poll with 47%.
While both also got a vote for the most underrated acquisition, Boston’s connection to that particular question was more indirect, as Marcus Smart (17%) and Grant Williams (14%) finished first and second in the voting.
GMs voted for the Smart/Porzingis trade as the second-most surprising of the summer, with its 20% of the votes trailing just the Damian Lillard/Bucks trade, which got 43%. Williams’ move to Dallas also got a vote.
And while the Celtics’ trade bonanza was the focal point of their offseason moves, their draft ventures also yielded respect. Rookie Jordan Walsh, who Boston selected 38th overall this summer, got a vote for the steal of the draft. Houston Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore took home top honors with 43% of the voting.
Defensively, the Celtics were well-represented in this year’s survey. Holiday was voted as the second-best defender in the NBA, earning 13% of the votes. His former teammate, Antetokounmpo, won the poll at 43%, while former Celtic Smart clocked in at 10%, which put him tied for third.
Holiday won the vote for best perimeter defender in a landslide at 50%, with Brooklyn Nets wing Mikal Bridges landing in second at just 13%. Smart tied for third once again at 10%, while Tatum also received a vote.
The Celtics were overwhelmingly selected as the best defensive team in the league at 47% of votes. Smart’s Grizzlies were second at 17%.
Head coach Joe Mazzulla also got a shoutout for the Celtics’ play on defense, as he earned a vote for the coach with the best defensive schemes in the NBA. Miami’s Erik Spoelstra took home that honor, getting 40% of the votes.
Meanwhile, Mazzulla’s coaching staff, which was a sour subject throughout last season following Ime Udoka’s suspension and Damon Stoudamire’s late-season departure, earned some admiration after a summer of bulking up.
Celtics assistants Sam Cassell and Charles Lee tied for fourth with 7% of the votes for the best assistant coach in the NBA, with Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez winning the vote at 31%.
Holiday also got a bit of a coaching nod, as 7% of GMs (tied for fifth) voted him as the current player who will be the best head coach one day. Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul topped the list with 20% of votes.
GMs’ respect for the Celtics players and playstyle was also paired with an appreciation for the on-court product, as Boston received a vote for the most fun team to watch in the league. The Nuggets landed first with 30% of the votes, followed closely by the Warriors (23%) and Kings (20%).
TD Garden also got a shoutout in the survey, as Boston tied for fifth (7%) for the team with the best homecourt advantage. Denver (37%), Golden State (17%), Sacramento (13%), and the Utah Jazz (10%) were above the Celtics, while the other teams tied for fifth included the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors.
Rounding things out, Holiday earned a vote for the best leader in the NBA, a poll topped by LeBron James (27%), while Tatum got one for the most versatile player in the league, an honor Antetokounmpo received (45%).
Few teams were more represented by Boston throughout the survey, and few players were more repped than Holiday and Tatum. GMs are very high on the Celtics heading into the season, and while their offseason moves sacrificed some depth, the consensus is overwhelmingly positive from those around the league.