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NBA GMs like Bulls D and Rose as best point guard
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jan 17
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
One of the fun stories of the NBA season could be a game show: Are you smarter than an NBA general manager?
Based on the results of the annual general manager’s survey released on NBA.com Tuesday, the answer may be yes.
These guys get these things wrong all the time, although one may argue that an opinion cannot be wrong, especially when it is yours.
The surveys generally show two things: NBA GMs generally favor the conventional wisdom mostly followed by sportswriters, so they have company in being wrong often. And they do make you angry because if this is what these guys think, then how can you not be an NBA GM? How do you get that job? After all, there’s no degree. There’s no test, like passing the bar exam to be a lawyer. And there certainly seem to be no standards.
I do like for the first time the survey lists last year’s selections to show just how wrong—and occasionally accurate—the guesses are. And they are guesses, like all of us make. Though that’s the point. They don’t seem to know any more than the rest of us. Which is why I keep suggesting trades. After all, it seems obvious they can’t always think of them.
The answers also show basically the way sports reporting and fan reaction works, basically backward. If you did well, then you must have been smart and doing it the right way. If your team didn’t do well, you must be an idiot.
Anyway, the GMs are quite sure there will be little challenge to Miami winning the championship this season with them winning the East with 96.3 percent of the vote and the NBA title with 74.1 percent with Oklahoma City second at 14 percent. But don’t despair. Last season, they were certain with 63 percent predicting the Lakers would win before they were swept out in the second round.
Actually, they get this one wrong most of the time, picking the Lakers in 2003 when the Spurs won, the Lakers in 2004 when the Pistons won and the Spurs in 2008 when the Celtics won. In fact, that was the fourth consecutive season the GMs agreed the Spurs would win even though the great Spurs teams never did go back to back once.
Look, it isn’t an easy one. I always say if I knew I’d stay in Vegas and just wager. Maybe that’s the problem. Summer leagues always are there and the GMs must be losing so much money they have to keep their jobs.
In any case, you do get some respect when you have some success. And some has been coming the Bulls way. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who finally got a head job last year after almost two decades of trying, now, GMs agree, is the coach with the best defensive schemes. What, did he make all those up last season?
Thibodeau also got votes, though not in the top of George Karl and Rick Adelman for best offense. But since Mike Brown was listed as tied for fifth I can completely dismiss that vote. Brown didn’t even draw the offensive plays in the huddle in Cleveland and now it seems clear Kobe isn’t exactly following any plays.
But it may have helped Mike Malone be voted the best assistant since he was doing that for Brown in Cleveland before moving on to Golden State. All these things are arbitrary, of course. But Malone gets top assistant, which generally means the guys next up for head coaching jobs. Brian Shaw was second and Mike Budenholzer third.
Actually, great assistants are the ones, in my view, who teach and best assist the head coach. Perhaps I’m biased, but I’d go with the Bulls Ron Adams, who was regarded higher when he had a greater profile in Oklahoma City. I’d also go with Ron Rothstein in Miami and Terry Stotts in Dallas, who did get some votes. Actually, and no offense, but I’d still go with Brendan Malone in Orlando, Mike’s father, among the best assistants.
Though that’s insider stuff.
Gregg Popovich generally gets the nod for best coach and I won’t disagree with that, though it would be unanimous if it were best coaching sideline interview as he scares the crap out of those sideline interview girls. It’s some of the best stuff on TV.
The GMs do have the Bulls as Central Division favorites by 96.4 percent. It was 82 percent last season, though it’s less certain this season with Indiana much better.
They have MVP between Kevin Durant and LeBron James again after going with Durant last season when We Know Who surprised them again.
Derrick Rose does make their top five among players to start a franchise with (No. 3) and players who force the most adjustments (No. 5). And he’s best point guard, as we were telling them all last year, over Chris Paul by a wide margin. Last year they had Deron Williams, who no longer gets any votes.
They did see Ricky Rubio coming despite many critics after Rubio didn’t play well in Spain. He was with Kyrie Irving for top two rookies and for breakout international player.
And they’ve got the Bulls as the league’s best defensive team, though that takes a hit with the stuck in mud Celtics listed second. Yes, these things do go more on reputation than reality.
The GMs list Miami the most fun to watch, so good luck to them with that brutal half court offense. They have Rose as fastest with the ball by a big margin (57-7) over John Wall and Russell Westbrook, though where Wall is going with it has yet to be determined. Rose is listed just behind James as the best in the open floor, which seems fair, and tied for third behind James and Wade for best finisher.
Toughest player is a curious category. Kobe is No. 1, which I can accept as he’d play with a sucking chest wound. But I have to wonder about Kevin Garnett third as his favorite pastime these days is talking trash and menacing small, European players.
So the Bulls are listed fourth behind Miami, the Thunder and the Lakers with a 3.7 percent chance, according to the GMs, of winning the championship. Hey, no sense being the favorite on their list.
>> NBA.com: 2011-12 NBA.com GM Survey Results