Survey says: Celtics headed in right direction

Channel Media & Market Research conducts a survey of New England sports fans each summer that gauges opinions on Boston pro sports teams. While it's a relatively small sample (14,600 respondents from the six New England states), it does offer some insight into how fans view local teams and where each squad ranks in the Boston sports hierarchy.

Here are some Boston Celtics-related takeaways from this year's survey:

In Brad they trust (and Danny, too)

Respondents were asked to select the Boston coach they most admired for the way they manage their team. While New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick dominated the category with 66 percent of the vote, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was next at 20 percent (no other coach received more than 5 percent of the vote). Among team general managers, Danny Ainge tied with Dave Dombrowski of the Red Sox with 13 percent of the vote. Both, however, were well behind Belichick's 70 percent.

How did HE get on this list!?

Respondents were asked to pick the Celtics player they most admire for what that player contributed to 2015-16 season. Not surprisingly, first-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas topped the list with 59 percent of the vote. Avery Bradley (11 percent), Jae Crowder (9 percent) and Evan Turner (5 percent) made sense behind Thomas. The head-scratcher: David Lee, who was cut loose in February after a less-than-memorable four months with the team, improbably received 3 percent of the vote.

Headed in the right direction

Respondents were asked to pick whether each Boston team had changed for the better, stayed the same or gotten worse over the past year. The Celtics topped the five Boston pro sports teams with 80 percent of respondents suggesting the team had changed for the better (the Red Sox were the next highest with 71 percent saying the Sox got better).

Did not meet expectations

Asked to name the Celtics player who failed to meet expectations during the 2015-16 season, respondents targeted now-departed Jared Sullinger (33 percent). Lee (15 percent), Kelly Olynyk (9 percent), Marcus Smart (7 percent) and James Young (4 percent) rounded out the top five.

Lombardi before O'Brien?

Respondents were asked to pick which Boston team would be the next to win a championship, and the Celtics got only 5 percent of the vote (the Patriots got 79 percent and the Red Sox 11 percent). Maybe the only surprise is that the Celtics' percentage on this question was actually down from 7 percent last year despite the fact that they are perhaps better positioned for a title run after adding an All-Star like Al Horford this summer.

Not the favorite child

Of the region's big four sports squads, the Celtics were deemed the "favorite" team of just 8 percent of respondents, lagging well behind the Patriots (49 percent), Red Sox (26 percent) and Bruins (16 percent). What's more, 17 percent of respondent said they never follow the Celtics when gauging how closely Boston fans observe the local hoopsters.