GMs pick Clippers as champions, Giannis Antetokounmpo as MVP

Williams: LeBron will come back and torch opponents (1:43)

Jay Williams doesn't expect LeBron James to win the MVP this season, but rather lead the Lakers to at least the Western Conference finals. (1:43)

In NBA.com's annual survey of the league's 30 general managers, Giannis Antetokounmpo was picked to repeat as the MVP, the Los Angeles Clippers were tabbed to win their first championship, and Zion Williamson was crowned the league's most athletic player before ever taking part in a regular-season game.

Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to 60 wins and a spot in the Eastern Conference finals last season, received 52% of the MVP vote in the survey, which consisted of 50 questions. Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard were the runners-up, each receiving 10% of the vote.

Further evidence that Antetokounmpo, 24, is the game's preeminent young star: 86% of the GMs said they would pick him if they had the option of starting a team from scratch -- dramatically higher than the 30% who voted for him last year. Davis and Luka Doncic, who each garnered 7%, were the only other players to receive votes.

The Clippers, meanwhile, were recognized for their busy summer, which saw them land Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers were not only picked as having the best overall offseason (82%) and making the most important move (signing Leonard, 67%), but were tabbed by 46% of voters as the team most likely to hold the Larry O'Brien Trophy next June.

That put the Clippers ahead of ahead of the Bucks at 36% and Los Angeles Lakers, who added Davis this summer, at 11%. The Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers also received championship votes.

That four Western Conference teams were picked to potentially win the title, compared to just Milwaukee in the East, reflected something else that carried through the survey: The East is essentially a two-horse race, while the West is wide-open.

Only two teams -- Milwaukee and the Philadelphia 76ers -- were picked to come out of the East, with Milwaukee garnering 76% of the vote compared to Philadelphia's 24%. The Boston Celtics were the only other team in the East to even get a second-place vote.

In the West, meanwhile, six teams -- the Clippers (66%), Lakers (14%), Warriors and Houston Rockets (7%), Blazers and Denver Nuggets (3%) -- each earned at least one vote to make it to the NBA Finals this season.

By comparison, the Celtics and Warriors earned 90 percent of the votes to win their respective conferences a year ago.

Williamson continues to gain plaudits amid an impressive preseason for the New Orleans Pelicans. The top overall pick in June's draft earned 68% of the votes to be named the Rookie of the Year, with Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland the only other players to receive a vote.

Williamson also received 68% of the vote for which member of this year's draft class will be the best player five years from now, with Morant (18%), Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish (7%), Garland and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarrett Culver also receiving votes. Williamson's teammate Nickeil Alexander-Walker was tabbed as the biggest steal of the draft by 32% of respondents, ahead of Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke (21%), Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze (11%), Nuggets center Bol Bol and Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (7% each).

Williamson (41%) and Antetokounmpo (28%) were the only players to receive more than 10% of votes for being the league's most athletic player.

Curry, James Harden, Leonard, Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic were picked as the best players at each individual position; LeBron James finished with one vote at point guard, 24% of the vote at small forward and 10% at power forward. Leonard was tabbed as the league's best defensive player, he and George were picked as the two best perimeter defenders, and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was overwhelmingly picked as the best interior stopper.

San Antonio's Gregg Popovich was named the league's best coach by 55% of voters, followed by Miami's Erik Spoelstra, Milwaukee's Mike Budenholzer and Golden State's Steve Kerr, with Orlando's Steve Clifford, the Clippers' Doc Rivers and Utah's Quin Snyder also getting votes. Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who had 47% of the vote to lead all coaches last year, received none this time around.

Dallas' Rick Carlisle was picked as the best at making in-game adjustments, while Kerr was credited with having the best offensive schemes and Snyder the best defensive ones.

Blazers star Damian Lillard was deemed the league's best leader, and Antetokounmpo edged out James for being its most versatile player. James once again was picked as the player with the highest basketball IQ, while Curry was selected as the one who GMs would want to take a shot with the game on the line.