NBA

NBA GMs favor Bucks to win title; Luka for MVP

The Milwaukee Bucks are slight favorites to win the 2023 NBA championship, and Luka Doncic was tapped as most likely to win the 2023 Most Valuable Player award in NBA.com’s annual survey of all 30 of the league’s general managers.

The 21st edition of the survey was released Tuesday and saw Milwaukee receive 43% of the vote. The other teams to receive votes were the defending champion Golden State Warriors with 25%, the LA Clippers with 21% and the Boston Celtics with 11%.

Not surprisingly, the Bucks were the clear favorites to win the East. They were followed by the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. Those six teams were the only ones to receive votes to finish among the top four seeds in the East this season.

Out West, meanwhile, nine teams received votes. The Clippers finished slightly ahead of the Warriors for first in the West, followed by the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves (tied for sixth), the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.

Doncic was a narrow, but clear, favorite at MVP, as the Slovenian superstar collected 48% of the vote, compared to 34% for Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, 14% for 76ers star Joel Embiid and a single vote for Warriors star Stephen Curry. It was Antetokounmpo, however, who finished ahead of Doncic in the category of player a GM would most want to build their team around, with Antetokounmpo getting 55% of the vote and Doncic 45%. No other player received a single vote.

Curry, Suns star Devin Booker, Nets star Kevin Durant, Antetokounmpo and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic were selected as the top player at each position. The only change from last year was that Booker surpassed James Harden as the league’s top shooting guard.

Speaking of shooting guards, Cleveland’s acquisition of Donovan Mitchell led the Cavaliers to the top spot among teams in terms of who had the best offseason, coming in with 41% of the vote. The Timberwolves, 76ers and Jazz finished in a three-way tie for second with 17%, while the Celtics and Sacramento Kings also received votes. The two former Jazz co-stars, Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, finished first and second, respectively, in the category of which player will make the biggest impact in their new home, while New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson was third.

The Gobert trade to Minnesota ranked as the most surprising move of the offseason with 47% of the vote — just ahead of Mitchell going to Cleveland, which received 43%. Malcolm Brogdon being traded to the Celtics, meanwhile, was seen as the most underrated move of the summer.

The top overall pick in June’s NBA draft, Paolo Banchero, was the runaway selection Rookie of the Year, collecting 79% of the vote, with Kings forward Keegan Murray finishing second. Banchero was also the pick to be the best player in the class in five years, finishing with 31% of the vote, while Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holmgren was just behind him with 28%. Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey and Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith were tied for third with 14%. Pistons center Jalen Duren and Rockets forward Tari Eason also tied for the biggest steals in this year’s draft.

Antetokounmpo was tapped as the best defensive player in the NBA, followed by Draymond Green and Gobert. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart was picked as the best perimeter defender, Gobert was selected as the best interior defender and Antetokounmpo was selected as most versatile. The Celtics — last year’s top-ranked defensive team — were the runaway selection as the league’s best defensive team.

On the coaching front, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was picked as the top coach in the league by 52% of voters, followed by Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue. Kerr was tapped as the best manager/motivator, as well as running the best offensive schemes, while Lue was credited with being the best at in-game adjustments and Spoelstra was seen as having the best defensive schemes.

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Bucks assistant Charles Lee were tied for being the best assistant coaches in the NBA, while Chris Paul received 32% of the vote to lead the way as to who would be the best future coach among current NBA players.

In the team categories, the Warriors were the runaway winner as most fun to watch, as well as to have the league’s most efficient offense this season. The Toronto Raptors were selected as having the best home-court advantage in the NBA, while the Nets were seen as the team that was the most difficult to predict how it would do and the Cavaliers — fresh off getting Mitchell — finished just ahead of the Grizzlies (41% to 38%) in terms of who has the NBA’s best young core.

Speaking of the Grizzlies, star Ja Morant was picked as both the league’s most athletic player and the fastest player with the ball, while Curry was — no surprise — tabbed as its best shooter, the best at moving without the ball and the player you’d most want to take a shot with the game on the line. Jokic was selected as the league’s best passer, Paul as its best leader and Antetokounmpo as its most versatile player.

LeBron James was at the top of one category: the player with the highest basketball IQ, where he got 45% of the vote ahead of Jokic’s 23%.


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