Giannis, Bucks thought of highly by NBA general managers

The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a 60-win season and have the game’s reigning Most Valuable Player in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

NBA general managers are liking the Bucks – and Giannis — to repeat their successes in 2019-20.

In the league’s annual survey of GMs, Milwaukee and Antetokounmpo were popular picks.

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The Bucks were the overwhelming favorite to win the Eastern Conference as 76% of GMs picked Milwaukee to finish in first place. Philadelphia was the only other team to receive first-place votes. The Bucks received 21% of the second-place votes as well. But with no third- or fourth-place votes, apparently there’s one GM out there who believes Milwaukee will end up in the bottom half of the division. (Our take: Now we know why this survey is done anonymously.)

Further, 36% of the GMs believe Milwaukee will win the NBA championship this season. Only the Los Angeles Clippers, at 46%, received more votes. Only five teams received votes and no other Eastern Conference team was mentioned.

As the face of the Bucks, and last year’s MVP, Antetokounmpo is oft-mentioned in the survey. In fact, most GMs think he’ll pull off back-to-back MVPs. Fifty-two percent voted for the Bucks superstar when asked who will win the 2019-20 MVP. No one else had more than 10% of the vote (Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard all had that amount).

If most GMs think the Greek Freak will be the MVP, then it stands to reason they also believe he’s the best international player. And, they do. He captured 79% of the vote (he led the survey in this question last year, too, at 73%), ahead of Denver’s Nikola Jokic (14%) and Dallas’ Luka Doncic (7%).

Antetokounmpo is also the player general managers would most want if starting a franchise today – he received a whopping 86% of the vote on that question. Giannis also topped the ballots in last year’s survey – but at 30%. Amazing what winning an MVP can do.

They also think only New Orleans’ Zion Willamson, who has yet to play in the NBA, is the only player more athletic than Giannis. Williamson got 41% of the vote and Antetokounmpo 28%. No other player received more than 7%.

General managers believe Antetokounmpo is the best power forward in the game, as he received 59% of the votes at that positional question. But they also think he’s the third-best small forward (14% of the vote, behind only Leonard and the Lakers’ LeBron James). Oh, and Antetokounmpo also received votes for best center.

No surprise then that he also was tabbed the most versatile player in the NBA, with 46%, and fourth among vote-getters for which player caused opposing coaches to make the most adjustments. Antetokounmpo got 14% of the votes in that category, behind Houston’s James Harden (48%), Curry (17%) and James (17%).

It isn’t just about defending Giannis; it’s how he defends, too. Antetokounmpo finished fourth in the voting for best defensive player in the NBA and third in most versatile defender. He also received votes in the category of best perimeter defender.

Perhaps because of Giannis, definitely in part, the Bucks were voted the third-best defensive team in the NBA, behind just the Clippers and Jazz.

The orchestrator of Milwaukee’s defense, Mike Budenholzer, finished third in voting for best coach, behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Eric Spoelstra. Budenholzer also received votes for best coach at in-game adjustments.

General managers think only Golden State’s Steve Kerr runs a better offense than Budenholzer and only Utah’s Quin Snyder has better defensive schemes.

It’s not all just about Antetokounmpo and Budenholdzer, though. Darvin Ham is considered one of the top assistants and newcomer Kyle Korver finished fourth among players best at moving without the ball (Korver also received votes for which players will one day become a coach).

Finally, the Bucks received 10% of the votes in the category of which team is the most fun to watch, behind just the Nuggets (31%), Pelicans (21%) and Warriors (17%).

Hey, that number seems a bit low to us, but if the GMs are right about everything else, we’ll take a title over fun.