It’s early October, that time of the year when NBA.com releases to the public results of its annual survey of general managers. In recent memory, their responses have been largely predictable. For example, they believe LeBron James is in line to garner Most Valuable Player honors for the 2018-19 season. He may have moved out West and, in the process, put his streak of eight consecutive finals appearances in jeopardy, but he’s still, in their opinion, first among equals.
That James ranks high on GMs’ estimation isn’t a surprise. In fact, they’ve pegged him to be the MVP in every survey since 2012. For the record, they’ve also identified him as the most versatile, the hardest to plan for, the best small forward, leader, and passer, the holder of the highest on-court intelligence quotient, and the player acquisition slated to make the biggest impact. Again no surprise, but far from an accurate predictor of outcomes; he hasn’t taken home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy in five years.
Where the GMs are likely to be on the mark is their forecast of the Warriors claiming a third straight championship and fourth in five years. After an off-season that had the defending titleholders spreading the welcome mat for yet another All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins, the Larry O’Brien Trophy appears to be staying put. This time around, though, they see the Celtics — mentored by Brad Stevens, their choice as best coach — finishing second best, again a safe bet given that the Cavaliers, who had hitherto lorded over the East, can no longer count on James.
From the outside looking in, the survey looks to be a fun exercise, and provides yet another opportunity to ramp up anticipation for the coming campaign. For those casting moist eyes on the hardware, however, the results provide ample motivation to achieve. Depending on perspective, there’s nothing like validating or disproving opinions of supposed experts in the judgment of talent. It’s why NBA.com keeps on asking, and why GMs can’t help but answer.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.