The annual GM survey is a rite of passage of the pre-season and carries with it a lot of weight. GM’s have a thankless job of moving the chess pieces around, building teams, and when necessary (Sixers, Suns), burning the house down. They have to reorganize on the fly when a superstar wants out. Because of the width and breath of the job, their insight before the season starts matters only because they spent the summer trying to start over or keep in tact their previous mess/art.
The usual is the usual from the 2018 survey. LeBron will win the MVP. The Finals will be Warriors-Celtics with the Warriors three-peating. LeBron was the biggest offseason move and the Lakers did the most this summer to improve. Luka Doncic will be Rookie of the Year but DeAndre Ayton will have the best career. The Thunder will be top-4, the Lakers will not.
If you want to start a franchise, the Greek Freak is the way to go. Tyreke Evans was the most underrated summer get. Rudy Gobert is the best defensive player but Kawhi patrols the perimeter like no one else. Draymond is the most versatile on defense.
Brad Stevens is the NBA’s best coach while Popovich is the best motivator and Quin Snyder of Utah runs the best defensive schemes. The Warriors are the most fun to watch, the Sixers have the best young core and the Thunder’s Steven Adams is the toughest player.
In the survey, the GM’s also list the elite players per each position. The Wizards John Wall and Bradley Beal were shut out in their respective positions, a slam to their ego but not really a surprise. At the point guard position the top-5:
- Steph Curry
- Russell Westbrook
- Kyrie Irving
- Chris Paul
- James Harden
Three have been regular season MVP’s. Two have rings. All have appeared in a conference final.
The top-3 shooting guards according to GM’s:
- James Harden
- Klay Thompson
- Steph Curry.
Steph isn’t really a shooting guard but he shoots the air out the ball for a guard. The GM’s weren’t impressed with any of the shooting guards so why not slide Steph in?
Top-5 and Top-3 in the NBA means elite player. The omission of Wall and Beal thrusts them into the very good category but not elite. Do they have beef?
Achievement: The numbers don’t lie. Wall and Beal have underachieved. They have never been to a conference final. They have never led their team anywhere in the postseason. They expectedly fall short and fail. Last season, John Wall was the 20th ranked point guard (Real Plus-Minus). Bradley Beal was the 13th ranked shooting guard.
Chris Paul was the 1st ranked point guard, James Harden was 2nd, Steph Curry was 3rd, Russell Westbrook was 5th. Klay Thompson was ranked 9th among shooting guards.
Last year, John Wall was left off the All-NBA team. He has only been All-NBA once. Bradley Beal has never been all NBA. Steph Curry has been All-NBA five years running. Russell Westbrook has been All-NBA 7 times, four years in a row. Kyrie Irving has been All-NBA once so Wall’s beef could be he’s better than Kyrie. He is better defensively that is for sure. But Kyrie has a ring, a game winning shot to get that ring, and a hero’s story. Wall can’t lead his team out the second round.
Until Wall gets a jumpshot that is dependable and to a conference final, he won’t move into the top-5. Wall is 28 years old, in the prime of his basketball life. He is a great on the ball defender. But he makes selfish decisions late in games and he can’t carry a team long term with his scoring which is what this new kind of point guard is about. Plus Wall’s leadership is a little suspect.
Beal is a good shooter. But he lacks versatility. He needs Wall to give him the damn ball, and Beal doesn’t do much of the other basketball things like rebounding or assisting. He will never be a number one.
To be elite in the NBA you have to be the first option on the team and you have to have led your team somewhere besides vacation a month before The Finals starts.