The Los Angeles Lakers will repeat as NBA champions, according to a survey of NBA general managers.
That prediction was one of many takeaways from NBA.com's annual survey of all 30 front offices before the start of the new season. The survey featured 33 questions, ranging from what player would they choose to begin a franchise with to the best player at each position to who will win this year's Most Valuable Player award.
But one of the most lopsided answers of the entire survey was to the first question: Who will win the title this season?
Eighty-one percent of respondents said the Lakers would repeat in 2021, with the only other team to receive multiple votes being the rival LA Clippers, who got 11% of the vote. The only other teams selected were the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, fresh off signing a five-year supermax extension to stay with the Bucks, was picked to win a third straight league MVP award -- something that hasn't been done since Larry Bird pulled it off from 1984 to 1986.
League executives predict it to be a wide-open race, however, as Antetokounmpo received only 32% of the vote, while five other players -- Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (21%), Lakers forwards Anthony Davis and LeBron James (18%), Nets forward Kevin Durant (7%), and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (4%) -- also received votes.
Antetokounmpo and Doncic, meanwhile, also were favorites among GMs when asked what player they would pick to start a franchise with. Both players received 43% of the vote, while Davis received 7%. To show how much respect Doncic has earned over the past year, Antetokounmpo was last year's runaway winner with 86%.
The league's GMs voted the best player at each position to be Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30%), Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (68%), James (57%) at small forward, Antetokounmpo (46%) at power forward and Jokic (50%) at center.
They also determined that the Lakers (37%) had the best offseason and rated guard Chris Paul going to the Phoenix Suns (44%) as the single best move and forward Gordon Hayward going to the Charlotte Hornets (54%) as the most surprising.
In addition, GMs favored Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (39%) to win Rookie of the Year and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (46%) to be named the league's best coach. The most promising young core of players nod went to the New Orleans Pelicans (41%).