The league's annual GM survey was released earlier this week, and it's always looked at and considered carefully because general managers should in theory be among the very brightest minds as far as NBA insight goes. Each team's GM is responsible for all player acquisitions and trades, hiring and firing coaches, and generally making sure the team is always moving in a better direction by being aware of every variable that can assist in this endeavor and acting upon them.
All this being the case, the opinions of GM's are quite revered, but as every fan who's ever instantly known a team made a horrendous draft pick while it was happening (ex: Hasheem Thabeet) or a terrible signing (ex: Joe Johnson's max deal in 2010) or a busted trade (ex: Dwight Howard for parts with better options on the table), these supposed experts are often nothing more than well-spoken idiots who work for an owner who obviously is far more concerned about a team's finances than its on-court success.
This all leads us to some of the more baffling choices some of the 30 GM's made in the annual survey. Keep in mind that some of the boggling selections had to be made because general managers could not pick their own squads (ex: Miami's Pat Riley was the sole GM who selected Atlanta to win their division), so I've left out some that initially look bizarre.
Which team will win the Western Conference?
Denver (1 vote): Some dolt picked the Nuggets over the Lakers and Thunder? I really hope whoever cast this vote simply hates both of those clubs a lot because if it was actual thinking that lead to this decision...oh boy.
Which team will win the Northwest Division?
Minnesota (1 vote): Just so we're clear, someone picked the Nuggets to win the entire West, and even though 3 GM's picked them to take the NW over the Thunder, yet another guy decided the Timberwolves were worth selecting to top the division. Rubio's out for a while and the team was only .500 last year at the time he got hurt, so...sure, what the hell.
Who will win the 2012-13 MVP?
Carmelo Anthony (1 vote): LeBron James and Kevin Durant received the other 29 votes, but even if you can't bring yourself to put either of their names down, Carmelo makes no sense at all. At least Dwight Howard or Chris Paul would be logical from a statistical and narrative perspective, two things Melo doesn't have going for him.
Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2012-13?
Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Josh Selby (1 vote each): Curry, Gordon, Iguodala, and Westbrook have all been around long enough that we have a solid read on what they are and can see that they're not taking an drastic steps up from this point forward, especially someone with the injury record like Curry. Griffin has already broken out as much as you can by starting in the All-Star Game last year. Cousins has already maximized his best skill, rebounding, and simply doesn't have the head to have the type of season that can improve a club (see also: the Kings are being picked to finish in the bottom 2 in the West). Josh Selby? This pick was obviously made by someone so unbelievably dumb that they looked at the way Selby lit up the summer league (which is always lit up by super athletic guards – Nate Robinson, Jerryd Bayless, etc.) and figured this had anything to do with anything. I really need to know which GM made this pick because I'd absolutely love to interview him.
Who is the best power forward in the NBA?
LaMarcus Aldridge (3 votes): The fact that LeBron James got more votes for this position (5) than Aldridge, even though LBG also had the vast majority at small forward, is quite telling. But seriously, can someone tell me even one thing LA does better than Kevin Love, who is much much better at rebounding, scoring inside, and shooting outside? I guess defense, but we're still talking about one of Aldridge's weaknesses. Duncan, Gasol, Nowitzki, and Garnett all bring much more to the table, and that's before we even discuss Blake Griffin, who actually takes and makes high percentage shots and can consistently snag 10 boards a game.
Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?
Brooklyn (2 votes), Atlanta (1 vote), Golden State (1 vote): Brooklyn added aging-really-fast Joe Johnson, backup point CJ Watson, the very dirty Reggie Evans, and headcase Andray Blatche, all of which made two GM's pick these additions over the Lakers' haul of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Atlanta had a decent offseason, but a big piece of that was getting rid of Joe Johnson's albatross of a contract, which two other GM's gave the Nets a lot of credit for acquiring, so who knows what to make of that dichotomy. As far as the Warriors, adding Carl Landry is quite helpful, but the always injured Andrew Bogut was traded for in March so he can't be factored into this decision, we all see by now that Harrison Barnes will never live up to the hype, and Jarrett Jack doesn't exactly blow anyone's hair back.
Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?
Deron Williams (1 vote): Uh, he was acquired during the 2010-11 season. If we're looking that far back to answer this question, at least say LeBron James.
Who will win 2012-13 Rookie of the Year?
Austin Rivers (1 vote): Not only does he have no PG skills and well below-average shot selection, but Rivers is on the same team as Anthony Davis who clearly has far better physical and basketball skills entering the league, plus Davis will get more of the credit if the Hornets improve. Pure stupidity (or some sort of nepotistic loyalty/duty by Danny Ainge of Boston, whose coach is Austin's father).
Which rookie is most likely to be a “sleeper” success?
Jared Sullinger (5 votes): Sullinger received the most votes for this question because he's a two-time All-American who lead one of the top teams in the NCAA, and is now on an unselfish franchise with multiple veteran HOFers who have a knack for getting the most out of hard working youngsters. All of which is to say he should not be a “sleeper” by any stretch of the imagination. He's only considered a possible “sleeper” because he fell to 21st in the draft because there are so many stupid GM's. See the circular lunacy of GM's bad decisions at work here?
Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA?
Kobe Bryant (1 vote): It's been a few years since Kobe has slowed down an opposing wing player, let alone been expected to be the guy to step up when there's a tough opposing wing, and even LA-based columnist D.J. Foster called this vote one of the worst, saying “Aren’t reputations fun? Bryant has been playing matador defense for a while now,” so it's really curious how he received a vote over Tony Allen or Andre Iguodala.
Which player is the best offensive rebounder?
I'd probably say Kevin Love or Kenneth Faried as well if I was asked (the top-2 vote getters), but the fact that of the 9 players who received mentions, only 1 of them finished in the top-15 of Offensive Rebound Percentage in the league last year (Cousins was third, Love's teammate Nikola Pekovic was first) is kinda weird considering GM's are supposed to be on top of things beyond just reputations.
Which player is the most athletic?
Which player makes the most of limited natural ability?
Kevin Durant (1 vote in both categories): Seriously, WTF?
Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?
Chauncey Billups (1 vote): I get that his nickname is was Mr. Big Shot, but it's been a long time since Billups has consistently come through in the clutch the way guys like Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony have shown the ability to do over the past few years.