Each year the NBA releases its annual poll from the league’s General Managers. It’s the 18th time they’ve done it, writes NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, and this time, it appears the top executives around the league prefer the chances or the talent’s of a few of the Sixers’ rivals. Let’s go through some of the categories that felt the most Sixers relevant. I must say, I was a little surprised at the lack of love they got from the execs. Here are 23 I found most interesting and Philly relevant.
- Finals predictions:
This one wasn’t a huge surprise. The Clippers are favorites on most betting sites, and often heavy favorites. The Bucks are favorites to win the east based on the way they’ve tailored their roster to benefit their star, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Sixers not being on this one shouldn’t be terribly insulting to anyone, unless of course you note that it appears that Golden State and Portland received more votes. Those teams face a gauntlet out west and aren’t nearly as likely to make the finals as Philadelphia so that bit is a head-scratcher to me.
2. Rank the top Eastern Conference teams:
This one is in line with mainstream thinking and prediction sights like 538.com. The order of the top tier among many experts in the East is often 1) Bucks 2) Sixers 3) Celtics.
No MVP love for any Sixers. Perhaps the GMs are projecting some serious “load management” for Joel Embiid and no monster leap for Ben Simmons. Kawhi Leonard, who only played 60 regular season games a year ago in order to peak in May and June made the list. I wonder if they drank Glen (As Marc Zumoff says there is only one Doc in Philly) Rivers’ Kool-Aid on playing Kawhi much more this regular season than he played a year ago. I don’t think that would be wise but, I suppose Leonard is good enough to win a chunk of MVP votes even if he did sit every 3-4 games in 2019.
4. Any young player
That’s an interesting one. I know he hasn’t played a game yet but I wonder if Zion Williamson was overlooked in this poll.
5. Most adjustments
I wonder if Kenny Atkinson or Nick Nurse at least considered Joel Embiid. Even though the big man wasn’t healthy for either playoff series, Joel’s mere presence was a big big swing. The Sixers completely dominated the eventual champs with a lethargic Embiid in the game and were handily dispatched when he wasn’t:
Embiid’s on/ off is wild.— Rxbun (@Rxbun) May 11, 2019
Raptors +17 in series
Embiid is +80
Sixers -97 without him
Joel being in the game or not vs. Toronto dictated that one team might simply be blown out. Even the Bulls took the Knicks to 7 games back in 1994 when Michael Jordan was playing baseball.
6. Breakout player
This tells me they don’t buy Ben’s jump shot and don’t expect a monster leap without one. That’s fair, I don’t either.
7. Best Center
I can see how this might ruffle some local feathers. I can also see some logic in voting almost twice as much for Jokic as Embiid. For my money, Embiid is the superior player. Being a vastly superior defender (even though Jokic made a leap defensively a year ago) is where he wins this duel. But if you believe Embiid is going to play ~60 games or so, and you believe Jokic will be leaned on all season long, then it’s a “safe” pick to vote for Jokic here, right?
On the other hand, Kawhi Leonard (a notorious healthy-scratch type) was voted best small forward by considerable margin with 62 percent. So they may be “dinging” Embiid here. Aha! Have I detected a slight!? If Embiid can let this stuff go, and just find some way to be healthy for the playoffs, I think this one will change dramatically for next year’s survey. But he has to do that first. Hopefully the big fella can channel this as motivation for the spring and not the winter. That’s how he’ll be defined.
8. Best summer moves
No love for Elton Brand’s collaborative front office here. Maybe if the Sixers had won Zion in the lottery like the Pelicans did he would have made this list instead of them. Winning Zion in the lottery was a stroke of sheer brilliance by New Orleans. Very smart. Sixers really bungled that.
9. Biggest acquisition
Bulletin board material for: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, and umm...Trey Burke? Let the disrespect seep through your veins and boil your blood young men. Fear not the judgements of some tailored-suits in their executive suites.
10. Underrated acquisition
Richardson makes this list. A sliver less fury and wrath for him to use as motivation.
11. Most surprising move
Horford cracks this list. We never saw it coming... until a few weeks before it happened.
12. Rookie of the Year?
Quit being so humble and charming for a minute Matisse Thybulle. Let the blood boil. Rip Zion. Cookies from Ja. Ice a pick-n-roll with Garland, let him snake through then block his pull-up from behind. Humble these hot shots with your lengthy limbs and sweet feet.
13. Best rookie in 5 years
Brett Brown can print this out and pin it up for Thybulle.
14. Rookie steal
More material for Matisse. The word steal was even in this category!
15. Best international
No Cameroonians or Aussies? No Dominicans? C’mon!
16. Best defensive player
Ok, now we’re just getting silly. Joel Embiid couldn’t crack the top 6?! I don’t think he’s ever going to get any credit for anything he does in the regular season unless he can dominate in the playoffs. Embiid could win an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year award and if he has gastroenteritis and a bum knee for the playoffs, they will say Rudy Gobert is his daddy. Yes the same Gobert who turns into a spinning pumpkin 30 feet from the hoop when he has to play Houston come spring time.
17. Best perimeter D
Wouldn’t have been surprised to see J-Rich on here but ok....guess that’s why they’re executives and I’m just a blog boy.
18. Most versatile defender
6’10 in shoes, can guard any position when locked in. One of the most dynamic athletes in the league? No love? OK. Hear that guys?
19. Best defensive team
Finally, one they cannot ignore Philadelphia! Wait wha? Just 7 percent? Bulletin board material for Brett Brown. If the Sixers have the best defense in the league this season not a single person will be surprised, except for 93% of the league GMs. The same ones who didn’t much want Zion to build a team around apparently.
There were 5 categories for Head Coaches and Brett Brown’s name did not come up in them. Not for best coach, best motivator, best in-game adjustments, best schemes on O or D. I guess they don’t really respect him that much. It feels a little arbitrary doesn’t it? Had he been granted some winning teams earlier in his career, or granted some continuity from his front office at any point, he’d probably be on a few of these. The changes he made following the game 1 loss to Toronto (putting Embiid on Pascal Siakam, putting the ball in Butler’s hands more) changed that series.
His new assistant, Ime Udoka, from San Antonio was mentioned. Nonetheless, Bulletin board material for everyone.
21. Most fun to watch
Zach Lowe of ESPN recently ranked the Sixers first on his list, but the NBA GMs apparently may find the Sixers just a tad boring it seems. Well good. Maybe if the Sixers hold their team to under 100 points every time they play this year that will remain the case. 99-91 slug fests for a loss may just put them to sleep. The Sixers should offer mattresses and blankies to opposing GMs when they visit Wells.
22. Promising young core
I guess we’re just not kids anymore are we? Where did all the time go?
23. Fastest with the ball
Would not have been surprised to see Simmons’ name here. Little surprised to not see him. He’s fast with the ball.
Feel free to check out the full list. There were a few other things like best passer, toughest player, or most versatile where you might have expected a Sixer to get a vote. But they’ve got a lot of work to do if they care to impress these GM’s. Tough crowd.