A clear majority of NBA general managers expect the Heat will win a third consecutive championship and LeBron James will capture a third consecutive MVP award. Those were among the highlights emerging from NBA.com’s 12th annual survey of all 30 general managers, who were granted anonymity.
Asked which team will win the Finals, 75.9 percent of the GMs named the Heat, followed by Indiana and San Antonio, who each received 6.9 percent.
Chicago, the Clippers and Oklahoma City also received votes. Last season, 70 percent of the GMs predicted Miami would win the title.
Asked which player will win the MVP award this season, 69 percent of GMs named James, followed by Kevin Durant at 24.1. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul also received votes.
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And James received an even stronger endorsement when GMs were asked what player they would sign if starting a franchise today. James received 89.7 percent of the votes (up from 80 last year). Durant (6.9 percent) and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving (3.4 percent) were the only others who received votes.
James won or received votes in other assorted categories. Among them:
• James won the best small forward category, with 86.7 percent, followed by Durant at 13.3.
• He also finished third in the best power forward category at 13.8 percent, behind Tim Duncan (31) and Kevin Love (27.6).
• Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? James won that category with 66.7 percent, followed by Durant at 13.3. He also won the “most athletic” category at 56.7 percent, beating Russell Westbrook (16.7).
• James finished second in the best defensive player category, his 27.6 percent trailing Dwight Howard’s 34.5. He also finished second in the best perimeter defender category, his 33.3 percent not far behind Tony Allen’s 36.7.
• James finished first in the “most dangerous in the open floor category” at 73.3 percent, well ahead of Derrick Rose and Westbrook (10 percent each). He also was first in the “best finisher” category at 70 percent.
• James finished fourth (at 10 percent) when GMs were asked which player is best at getting his own shot. Durant, Kobe Bryant and Anthony were the top three. He was tied for third with Duncan in the best basketball IQ category, behind Paul and Steve Nash.
• Two categories where James received only one vote: Best leader (Duncan won) and toughest player (Bryant and David West finished 1-2, with Udonis Haslem also receiving a single vote).
And when asked which player they want taking the shot with the game on the line, only 7.1 percent named James — which was tied with Anthony for third behind Durant (39.3) and Bryant (32.1). Ray Allen also got a vote.
Results of other categories involving the Heat:
• Asked which team will win the East, 86.2 percent named the Heat, followed by the Pacers (10.3) and Bulls (3.4). Every GM predicted the Heat would win the Southeast Division.
• Dwyane Wade finished sixth (at 3.3 percent) in the best shooting guard category, behind James Harden (56.7), Bryant (20), and Stephen Curry, Durant and Paul George (6.7 percent each).
• Erik Spoelstra finished tied with Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau for third in the best head coach category at 6.9 percent, behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (75.9) and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers (10.3).
Spoelstra finished a distant third behind Popovich and Rivers in the category of which coach is the best manager/motivator of people. Spoelstra got a single vote in the categories of best in-game adjustments (won by Popovich) and best defensive schemes (Thibodeau), and was tied with the Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni for fourth in the best offense category (behind Popovich, Minnesota’s Rick Adelman and Houston’s Kevin McHale).
• Ray Allen finished second at 24.1 in the best pure shooter category, behind Curry (44.8 percent). Allen won the “best moving without the ball” category at 36.7, easily surpassing the Clippers’ J.J. Redick (13.3).
• Just 10 percent named the Heat the best defensive team, trailing Chicago (43.3) and Indiana (33.3).
• Asked which active player will make the best head coach some day, 14.3 percent of the GMs named Shane Battier — which trailed only Chauncey Billups (32.1) and Paul (17.9).
• The Heat finished fourth in the best homecourt advantage category, behind the Thunder, Warriors and Nuggets.