The Brooklyn Nets were chosen by the league’s general managers as a big favorite to win this season’s championship, and star Kevin Durant was chosen as a slight favorite to win his second Most Valuable Player award.
In the annual poll of 30 general managers released Tuesday by NBA.com, the Nets received 72% of the votes to win the title, putting them far ahead of the only other teams to get votes: the Los Angeles Lakers. (17%) and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (10%).
The Nets and Bucks, unsurprisingly, also dominated voting in the Eastern Conference, finishing first and second, respectively, and were followed by the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers. Likewise, the Lakers were the clear choice in the West, followed by the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
After successfully returning from a torn Achilles last season, including his incredible performance against Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Durant was chosen as the favorite to be this year’s MVP, which would be his first since. who won it in 2014 with Oklahoma City.
Durant got 37% of the vote, compared to 33% for Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Other players who received votes were Giannis Antetokounmpo (13%), Joel Embiid (7%) and James Harden (7%) and Stephen Curry (3%), while LeBron James received none.
Doncic outscored Antetokounmpo in voting for the player who would be the first choice to start a franchise, getting 43% of the vote to Antetokounmpo’s 40%. Other players who received votes were Durant, James, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson and Nikola Jokic.
Antetokounmpo was also named the best international player, ahead of Doncic and Jokic.
Meanwhile, Curry, Harden, Durant, Antetokounmpo and Jokic were easily selected as the best player in each of the five positions, and all obtained at least 57% of the votes. The only change in that group from last season is that Durant edged out James for the honor of being the best forward in the league.
Miami was chosen as the team that had the best offseason, with the acquisition of Kyle Lowry as the pick for the best move of the summer, garnering 77% of the vote. Only Russell Westbrook for the Lakers (17%) got more than one vote, with Spencer Dinwiddie for Washington and Jonas Valanciunas for New Orleans also receiving votes.
Westbrook to the Lakers was considered the most surprising move, while Larry Nance Jr., who was traded to Portland, was voted the most underrated. The Chicago Bulls, after signing DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in sign-and-trade deals this offseason, were chosen as the team that would improve the most this season.
Rockets guard Jalen Green received a slight lead to win the Rookie of the Year award over Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham (47-40), while Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley was a pick. Slightly ahead of Cunningham (33-30) for which player in this year’s draft will be the best five years from now.
Antetokounmpo was also named the best defensive player in the NBA, ahead of current Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and was also named the most versatile defensive player. The Bucks were slightly ahead of the Jazz (40-33) for being the best defensive team in the league.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was chosen as the NBA’s best head coach, garnering 55% of the vote, with Phoenix’s Monty Williams the top motivator, Clippers coach Ty Lue as the best at adjusting the game, Jazz coach Quin Snyder as best offensive coach and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau as best defensive coach.
The Hawks got half the votes for being the team with the most promising young core, while James was voted the most versatile player in the NBA and the one with the highest IQ in basketball, while Durant was the pick for who would be the best choice to take a decisive shot in a game.