NBA general managers foresee MVP James leading Cavaliers to title

LeBron James is still the king among current day NBA players according to a survey of general managers, but Anthony Davis is the heir to the throne.

Derick E. Hingle/Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The Suns barely made a blip in NBA.com’s annual survey of the league’s general managers.

The 13th annual survey asked 49 questions of the league’s GMs, and the biggest takeaway is that they consider the Cleveland Cavaliers the team to beat for the league title by a rather significant margin. The Cavs were named on 53.6 percent of the ballots, followed by the LaMarcus Aldridge-reinforced Spurs (25.0 percent), defending champion Warriors (17.9) and Thunder (3.6).

Though the Spurs received more championship love than the Warriors, Golden State was the pick to be the top team in the Western Conference by a margin of 51.7 percent to 41.4. Oklahoma City ranked third and the L.A. Clippers fourth. Phoenix, which was 10th in the Western Conference last year, failed to receive a vote in balloting for the top four teams in the West. The East’s top four were Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.

LeBron James outpolled New Orleans’ Anthony Davis for Most Valuable Player, but Davis was chosen by a large margin as the one player GMs would want to sign if they were starting a franchise from scratch.

James was also voted the league’s top small forward, Davis the top power forward, Steph Curry the top point guard, James Harden the top shooting guard and Marc Gasol the top center.

Othr individual accolades:

–Curry: best pure shooter.

–San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard: best defender.

–Chris Paul: best passer, best basketball IQ.

–Russell Westbrook, most athletic.

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–Golden State’s Andre Iguodala: best role player (edging teammate Draymond Green), most impactful player off the bench, ahead of ex-Sun Isaiah Thomas.

Aldridge, who resisted strong overtures from the Suns to sign with San Antonio, was overwhelmingly voted as the highest impact offseason acquisition.

Jahlil Okafor was the GM’s pick for Rookie of the Year by a 44.8 to 34.5 margin over No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, but Towns dominated voting for which rookie would be the best player in five years. Second-year Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins was the choice for breakout player of the year.

San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich dominated the coaching categories.

The Warriors were voted as having the best homecourt advantage while also being the most fun team to watch.

The Suns’ signing of center Tyson Chandler was an also-ran in voting for most surprising off-season development and most underrated acquisition; guard Devin Booker was listed as receiving votes in biggest draft-day steal.

Former Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, now head coach at New Orleans, was chosen as the newly hired coach who will have the biggest impact.

Click here for the full results.