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NBA GM Survey Prominently Features Houston Rockets’ Ty Lawson

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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The NBA 2015-2016 General Manager’s Survey ran on nba.com website yesterday (Tuesday October 20th) with the usual suspects front and center. While fans expected to see superstars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and James Harden in the mix there were some surprises.

The answers are sure to draw some ire from teams and fans who got ignored, but the Houston Rockets and certain players not named Harden were in the mix perhaps more than most anticipated.

Below are some of the specific questions and responses where Rockets players (and by virtue of the answers Houston GM Daryl Morey) landed atop the GM answers:

Who wins the West?

Regardless of what pundits are saying the GM’s are towing the line citing Golden State as returnees to top the Western Conference (51.7%) with San Antonio a close second (41.1%). The Thunder were the only other team considered a possibility to usurp these Western power houses and the Rockets were predominantly viewed as fourth best by 31%.

Based on the GM’s responses and where they ranked the teams a majority saw the top 6 Western teams finishing in this order:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Houston Rockets
  6. Memphis Grizzlies

Who wins M.V.P?

Though James tops the boards the GM’s voted significantly less for him to reclaim the prize than last season when 67.9% believed he would win the coveted individual award. More surprising is how confident the GM’s are Anthony Davis has surpassed everyone except LeBron. The Brow placed second in votes well ahead of Kevin Durant and last years top candidates and finishers: Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Based on the votes here is how the GM’s ranked the Associations franchise stars who’ll vie for M.V.P.

  1. LeBron James: 39.3%
  2. Anthony Davis: 25%
  3. Kevin Durant/James Harden: 10.7%
  4. Stephen Curry/Russell Westbrook:   7.1%

Which player would you select to start a franchise?

Hard to believe ageism exists in the NBA, but the above numbers and the answer to this question clearly points to how youth rules the NBA. Only 3 players make the grade and of those Anthony Davis literally smashed the vote with 86.2%. James and Durant tied with 6.9% and Harden didn’t even make the cut!  Cementing my original point is last season LeBron received 50% of the vote.

Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?

Harden again lands on the list and I suspect after a season with a healthy Kevin Durant and restructured Thunder offense he’ll return to the list:

  1. LeBron James: 62.1%
  2. Stephen Curry:  20.7%
  3. James Harden Houston/ Chris Paul:  6.9%
  4. DeMarcus Cousins:  3.4% 

Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?

Following a stand out M.V.P. type season James Harden improved upon his previous high of 63% in the 2014-15 survey. Interestingly Kevin Durant who predominantly plays small or power forward also got votes as did Steph Curry which is even odder give the second place vote receiver plays that position on Curry’s team.

  1. James Harden: Houston 79.3%
  2. Klay Thompson: 10.3%

Who is the best center in the NBA?

In this case, it’s obvious a season spent with multiple games lost to injury saw Dwight Howard fall right off the radar as he topped this category last season with 42.9% of the vote and this season doesn’t even make the top 5!

1. Marc Gasol 65.5%
2. DeMarcus Cousins: 13.8%
3. Anthony Davis,  Tim Duncan and DeAndre Jordan: 6.9%

Which team made the best overall moves this off season?

Not surprisingly the Spurs overwhelmingly won this category but what I did find interesting is the GM’s gave Houston second (tying them with the team who kept trying to steal their free agents, succeeding with  Josh Smith and also picking up ex Rocket Pablo Prigioni who was part of the Ty Lawson trade though he was later waived).

Repeatedly this off season the SCS team have debated (with others) on the merits of the moves Houston made. Many pundits didn’t even rank Houston in the top 10 of off season moves which was dumb founding. So, it was delightful to see Morey get his due for making solid draft choices, retaining his core and addressing the most pressing need. I will admit I’m surprised Minnesota, Milwaukee and Toronto didn’t finish in the mix.

  1. San Antonio: 79.3%
  2. Houston/L.A. Clippers:  6.9%

Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?

Again, though we knew Aldridge would top the board, the fact General Managers see what a big pick up Ty Lawson was speaks to how worried teams will be facing the retuned and revamped Houston Rockets this year.

  1. LaMarcus Aldridge: 79.3%
  2. Ty Lawson: Houston 10.3%
  3. Greg Monroe:  6.9%
  4. DeAndre Jordan:  3.4%

What was the most underrated player acquisition?

Again this answer proves teams viewed the move by Morey to add Lawson as critical while in contrast the National media barely recognized it. Notably Marcus Thornton also drew mention showcasing there are GM’s around the league paying Daryl Morey tribute for his efforts.

  1.  Ty Lawson: Houston 10.3%
  2. Paul Pierce /David West: 10.3%
  3. Amir Johnson /David Lee/Greg Monroe: 6.9%

What was the most surprising move of the off season?

The fact Lawson continues to show up as a popular off season acquisition (under rated and one that will make a big impact) it does beg the question how exactly this trade occurred.

Were the Nuggets eager to offload Lawson immediately after his second D.U.I. in 6 months and call the most active suitor? Or did Morey sensing the timing was right make the call? Either way the fact Lawson appears to top most of these off season questions it seems many more GM’s wish they had made the call or been more aggressive in their pursuit. (PURSUIT… see what I did there?)

  1. DeAndre Jordan back to Clippers 24.1%
  2. Greg Monroeto Milwaukee 20.7%
  3. David West to San Antonio 17.2%
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio, Tyson Chandler to Phoenix, Ty Lawson to Houston and Wesley Matthews to Dallas: 6.9%

Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA?

Houston again makes the list even for players not currently in the NBA with 27 year old Spaniard Sergio Llull who Daryl Morey bought the rights to from Denver.

  1. Dario Saric: 28.6%
  2. Milos Teodosic: 21.4%
  3. Sergio Llull: (Houston owned) 14.3%
  4. Dragan Bender:10.7%

Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA?

While the top 3 names come from other teams J.B. Bickerstaff of Houston was also among the others mentioned.

  1. Ron Adams, Golden State, 24.1% others mentione
  2. Tyronn Lue, Cleveland, 20.4%
  3. Ettore Messina, San Antonio, 11.1%

Which player is the fastest with the ball?

Though Wall and Westbrook topped the answers of the GM’s the next name mentioned among the others was Houston’s Ty Lawson

  1. John Wall:  53.4%
  2. Russell Westbrook: 32.8%

What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game?

Though he didn’t make the top 4 on the list (Andre Iguodala, Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford and Tony Allen) Corey Brewer was mentioned among the next level of players.

Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?

Interestingly this question ends the survey (in terms of player related questions) marking it’s importance. Notably last season Kevin Durant held a commanding lead receiving 76.9% of the GM’s votes.  Perhaps not surprisingly Curry and Harden are in the mix season given what they did for their respective teams this season.

Moreover it raises the question about why Harden and Curry don’t rank higher on the list for which player you would build a franchise around. Neither LeBron or Anthony Davis make this list which just goes to show GM’s don’t base their ultimate decision for player value on the player’s ability to win a game. Then again, once the summer hits when basically all 30 teams line up to try and woo Kevin Durant perhaps our answer to that question may change.

Stephen Curry: 51.7%
Kevin Durant: 31.0%
James Harden: Houston 10.3%
Carmelo Anthony: 6.9%

To view the survey in it’s entirety visit the NBA.com site or click this link.

In review the answers provided by the GM’s in the survey give a nod to the work Daryl Morey did this off season. More importantly they point to the fact while the pundits may not be deeming Houston as a threat to win the title, management of the other 29 teams definitely paid attention to the moves Morey made specifically with respect to Ty Lawson.

And, while Harden may be sitting behind James, Davis and Curry it was the moves Houston made this off season which appeared repeatedly within the context of the survey not those by Cleveland, Golden State or New Orleans.

As we close in on opening day of the 2015-16 regular season make sure you catch up on our Player Profile Series and our Round Table Sessions prepping you for the October 28th tip-off and as always stay with Space City Scoop for all things Houston Rockets.

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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