The NBA GM survey hints there may be more trade interest in Chris Paul than originally suspected. GMs also highlighted OKC Thunder players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Steven Adams.
In the annual NBA General Manager survey the men who construct franchises offered their opinions on a variety of topics. OKC Thunder players appear within the survey although in a different way than in year’s past.
Among their answers are the typical choices highlighting the elite teams and stars of the NBA. In addition within those answers are insights as to how General Managers view players who offer specific traits, benefits or prowess in certain areas.
For a team like the OKC Thunder, there are hints to be gleaned from these responses in terms of which players other brain trusts appreciate or recognize as beneficial to a roster. That might not seem important, but with Chris Paul showing up in several categories it could indicate there is more respect and interest in him than previously thought.
In past surveys, the Thunder ranked high among teams expected to compete for a title, where they would finish and several OKC players ranked at the top of lists. For example, Russell Westbrook was often cited in copious categories. Although he’s with the Rockets this season he’s not ranking as high or being tagged in as many categories.
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Likewise, LeBron James long considered the best player in the league and because of that common belief ranked atop a number of lists. That perception has seemingly shifted perhaps due to the dominant performance of Kawhi Leonard in the NBA Finals and ascent of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The resulting effect is several categories show other players have usurped LeBron’s position.
Let’s look at the players and categories where the OKC Thunder players were recognized.
Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20?
Although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t rank in the list of players who garnered seven percent of higher he was picked by some GM’s which speaks to how respected the young point guard is. The Kings De’Aaron Fox topped the list with 17 percent of the vote. Grizzlies Jaren Jackson Jr., and Celtics Jayson Tatum were second with 11 percent while Pelicans Brandon Ingram and Nuggets Jamal Murray earned seven percent.
The veteran point guard’s name showed up in five categories.
What was the most underrated player acquisition?
Although he didn’t make the list of five players who received over seven percent of the vote Paul was noted. And, of those in the top five, former OKC Thunder forward Jerami Grant who was traded to the Denver Nuggets received 11 percent for third place on the list.
Which player is the best passer?
LeBron James took 57 percent, Nikola Jokic ranked second with 32 percent and Chris Paul was third with seven percent.
Which player is the best leader?
Although CP3 didn’t make the top three on the list he was one of two others listed (including Giannis Antetokounmpo)
1. Damian Lillard, Portland — 41%
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State — 37%
3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers — 15%
Which player has the best basketball IQ?
And not surprisingly Chris Paul was among the four players cited for having the best basketball IQ. LeBron James ranked first (64 percent), Nikola Jokic second with (11 percent) and ironically Paul and his nemesis Rajon Rondo tied for third with seven percent.
Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
Given CP3 ranked in the two previous categories (best leader, highest IQ) it’s not surprising he also makes the cut as a future head coach.
1. Mike Conley, Utah — 26%
2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City — 19%
3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana — 15%
4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers — 11%
Like the previous survey, Steven Adams still maintains his tough guy image among the front office personnel. Last year Adams claimed 33 percent of the vote.
Who is the toughest player in the NBA?
1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City — 32%
2. Draymond Green, Golden State — 18%
3. P.J. Tucker, Houston — 14%
4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers — 7%
Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?
The OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley must be making an impression to show up here. This draft class is already proving to be a strong group so Bazley’s inclusion is impressive.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was last year’s top answer to the question and his cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the Pelicans tops the list this year. Sure does speak to the rise of the Canadians as the second name on the list (Brandon Clarke) is also a Canuck.
Under the category of what was the most surprising move of the offseason, the OKC Thunder shows up on both sides of the coin. Paul George‘s trade topped the list grabbing 52 percent of the votes, however, the second most surprising move was the Chris-Paul – Russell Westbrook trade which ranked second grabbing 28 percent of the votes.
A category the OKC Thunder were surprising left off was which team made the best overall moves in the offseason. The Clippers had the overwhelming nod grabbing 82 percent of the vote.
Albeit, the GMs likely looked at this question in terms of which teams put themselves in the best position to compete for a title. If the question had been phrased which team set themselves up best for the future I suspect the OKC Thunder would’ve ranked first overall.
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Surprisingly the Thunder did not make the list for best home-court advantage I guess Thunder Nation will have to remind fans when teams visit the Peake this season.
Also of note, among the seven coaches and assistant coaches questions (six of which are applicable to the OKC Thunder) Billy Donovan nor his staff made the cut in any responses.
In conclusion, the GMs survey isn’t necessarily a precursor to what happens in the league, but it does provide helpful insights. Again, the fact Chris Paul was isolated in five categories four of which lean toward positive attributes, logically it indicates the veteran is still valued and likely a player many clubs would appreciate having on their team.
Sam Presti should make note of this fact and use it in his trade conversations when he tries to move CP3 to a contending team.
As for the other insights, it’s also not surprising Gilgeous-Alexander is so highly respected or that Adams is viewed as the toughest player. The one surprise might be the inclusion of rookie Bazley. Then again, if you’ve caught any of the preseason games you already know this youngster is carving out his place in the future core of the OKC Thunder.
What are your thoughts about the GM survey? Did the front office brain trusts get it right? If not, which players or teams should (or shouldn’t) have made the lists? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.