2021-22 NBA GM survey: Kevin Durant trumps Luka Doncic for MVP, Nets huge title favorites among key takeaways


The annual NBA general manager survey always gives us insight into how different team moves in the offseason are viewed around the league, and which players are favored to win certain awards like MVP and Rookie of the Year. As much as it is used to forecast outcomes for the upcoming season, it also gives us an indication on the landscape of the league. For instance, ahead of the 2017-18 season, Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns was favored as the player NBA GMs wanted to build a franchise around. 

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Four years later, that title has shifted to Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, who received 43 percent of the votes for the No. 1 spot over Giannis Antetokounmpo. Here are some other key takeaways from the annual survey that was released Tuesday, from championship favorites to who league executives feel had the best offseason.

Durant slightly favored to win MVP over Doncic

After missing the entire 2019-20 season due to a torn Achilles, Kevin Durant returned last season and looked like he hadn’t missed a step at all. Though he was still limited to just 35 games in the regular season, during the postseason he reminded us just how dominant he can be, averaging 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists, on top of shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from deep. With injuries to teammates Kyrie Irving and James Harden heavily impacting Brooklyn in the postseason, Durant helped carry the Nets to a seven-game series against the eventual champions in the Milwaukee Bucks, racking up 48 points in Game 7 in the process. 

Due to his performance in the playoffs, it’s not entirely surprising that he’s favored to win MVP, as he likely would’ve been a contender for the award last season if he was fully healthy. But Durant only received 37 percent of the votes, while Doncic was right behind at 33 percent. Doncic delivered a similar performance in the playoffs, fueling Dallas to a seven-game series against the Clippers. If he manages to push the Mavericks to a higher seed in the West, he could also capture MVP this season.

Nets highly expected to win 2022 NBA Finals

This may not be surprising given the amount of talent Brooklyn has, not just at the top of its roster, but all the way down. Especially after adding players like Patty Mills, Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge during the offseason. But the amount of confidence general managers have in the Nets, who received 72 percent of the votes, is rather surprising since the status of Kyrie Irving being able to play in home games is still up in the air. Irving didn’t attend the Nets’ first practice back in Brooklyn Tuesday, as he isn’t allowed inside team facilities unless he gets vaccinated due to local COVID-19 regulations. If Irving continues to refuse the vaccine, it will have a significant impact on Brooklyn this season, but judging by the amount of GM’s who picked the Nets to win it all this season, it seems like they think Irving will eventually get the shot. 

Heat had best offseason among all teams

It appears as though league executives are high on the Miami Heat entering the season. They not only voted the Heat for having the best offseason with 47 percent of the votes, but also predicted them to finish third in the Eastern Conference and for Kyle Lowry to have the biggest impact of any offseason acquisition. Miami’s big move this summer was signing Lowry as a free agent after the team came close to trading for him at the deadline last season. Lowry’s presence in the backcourt should be a huge boost for a Heat team that was lacking at the point guard position, and his veteran leadership and championship experience will be invaluable in the locker room. 

But Lowry wasn’t the only savvy move the Heat pulled off this summer. They also brought in PJ Tucker fresh off a championship with the Bucks, and re-signed Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo, the latter of which if he’s healthy will give them yet another scoring option in their arsenal. To top all that off, the Heat also gave Jimmy Butler an extension, ensuring he’ll be in Miami for several more years. The runner-up for best offseason moves were the Lakers with 17 percent of the votes, after they traded for Russell Westbrook and brought in a slew of veteran players to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Westbrook to Lakers voted most surprising move

This was a surprising move to everyone, considering the general consensus was that Westbrook had an “untradeable” contract. Yet the Lakers pulled the trigger on bringing in the athletic, dynamic guard to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and on paper it is an incredibly potent team. It will be interesting to see how this all works out, mainly because Westbrook is at his best when he has the ball in his hands and is dictating the offense. But the same can be said for James, who has served as the unofficial point guard for the Lakers the past couple seasons. James, of course, is an incredibly versatile player, so this may not end up being an issue at all, but everyone will be watching to see how the Lakers fit all these pieces together. 

Green picked to win Rookie of the Year

It appears as if NBA general managers slightly favor the player who went No. 2 on draft night compared to the No. 1 overall pick in Cade Cunningham. Jalen Green received 47 percent of the votes, and this likely has more to do with the amount of opportunity Green will get to put points on the board in Houston, compared to Cunningham in Detroit. The Pistons have several young players they’re developing, and while Cunningham is arguably the best of the bunch already, the focus will be more on the development of several players aside from just him. Green, on the other hand, will be the sole focus on a Rockets team that is suddenly entering a rebuild following the trade of Harden last season. He’ll have ample opportunity to show his stuff, which explains why he’s favored in this category.

Mobley voted to be best in his rookie class in five years

In a surprising twist, league executives feel the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will end up being the best player in his class five years from now. If you followed Mobley in college, this may not be that surprising to you, considering he’s been touted as a “7-foot wing” player. Thinking of the possibilities in the way you can use Mobley on both ends of the floor is reason alone to obsess over his potential, which is probably why he was given the slight edge over Cunningham here. He can play like a traditional big man, but when you watch Mobley you also see guard skills waiting to be further developed.

Suggs considered biggest steal in draft

Jalen Suggs going No. 5 to Orlando received 23 percent of the votes, and when the Raptors passed on him with the No. 4 pick, which allowed the Magic to take him next, it was immediately seen as a win for the franchise. Suggs is a dynamic two-way guard, and given that Orlando has struggled with solidifying a backcourt over the years, getting Suggs is an absolute steal. 





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