GMs predict LeBron, Heat will repeat

The NBA's general managers have picked the Miami Heat to repeat as champions and LeBron James to win his fourth Most Valuable Player Award, according to NBA.com's annual survey of the league's front offices that was released Monday.

Seventy percent of the GMs picked the Heat to go back-to-back, the second consecutive year league executives have made them the heavy favorite.

The Los Angeles Lakers received the second-most votes at 23 percent, and just 7 percent picked the Oklahoma City Thunder to win after their loss to the Heat in last year's Finals.

The Heat were virtually the unanimous pick to win the Eastern Conference, getting 29 of the 30 possible votes. Because teams cannot vote for themselves in any category, the Heat apparently gave their vote to the Boston Celtics as the pick in the East. The Lakers got 60 percent of the vote to be the favorites to meet the Heat in the 2013 Finals.

James got 67 percent of the votes for MVP. The Thunder's Kevin Durant was picked as second-most likely with 30 percent.

Perhaps the most interesting item revealed in the results was the impression James left by playing power forward during the Heat's run to the title last year.

James was voted as the league's best small forward for the seventh consecutive year but also was voted by the GMs as the third-best power forward behind the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki. James likely will play the most minutes of his career at the power forward position this season.

Top overall draft pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets got nearly 77 percent of the GMs' vote as the favorite to win rookie of the year. Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers' top pick who has been the most impressive rookie in the preseason, was second with 20 percent.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the 2011-12 coach of the year, clearly has the esteem of the entire league. Popovich was selected as the best coach, the best motivator and the coach who makes the best in-game adjustments.

The Lakers were picked as the team that had the best offseason, and the top two offseason moves that were voted to have the most impact were the Lakers' signing of Steve Nash and trade for Dwight Howard.

With 62 percent, the Brooklyn Nets were selected as the most improved team. The Nets traded for Joe Johnson and re-signed Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace over the summer.