Yesterday, NBA.com released the results of its annual survey conducted among the league's thirty team GMs. Among the questions asked: who do these GMs predict will be this year's champion? (Answer: San Antonio Spurs) and MVP (Answer: LeBron James), and who the league's best defender (Answer: Joakim Noah) and coach (Answer: Gregg Popovich).
11.5% of GMs voted the Oklahoma City Thunder as the team to win it all this year, tying for third with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers. Interestingly however, 29.5% of GMs voted the Thunder to win the Western Conference, compared to 11.1% for the Clippers.
21.4% voted for Kevin Durant as the MVP (it's unclear if this survey was conducted before or after his injury), giving him the second best odds after LeBron James. With the hype behind this season's Cleveland Cavaliers super-team, it's probably a fair bet even though Durant comes in as the reigning winner.
Durant was voted for by 25.0% as the league's best small forward, again second to LeBron. Interestingly, he drew a few scattered votes for the league's best shooting guard and power forward as well. Russell Westbrook drew 10.7% for the same question with point guards, ranking second behind Chris Paul. Serge Ibaka drew the third-most votes (tied with Dwight Howard) for the league's best defender, though he ranked second over Dwight as the best interior defender with a 25.0% share of votes.
It's clear the Thunder and their players are, unsurprisingly, pretty well regarded around the league. They don't seem to be the outright favorite pick for many of the league's tangible accolades (NBA champion, MVP, best defender/DPOY), but they hold a pretty solid share of votes all around. Compared to last year's survey, the Thunder and their players seemed to hold steady or gain favor in the eyes of GMs around the league, for the most part.
Some of the more fun votes included Austin Rivers for most likely breakout player in 2014-15, Caron Butler for best future head coach, Nick Collison for the league's best role player and Nenad Krstic for best international player outside of the NBA. Man, I miss Nenad Krstic.