A Brief History of NBA GM Survey Fails

David MurphyFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2013

PHOENIX - MAY 8:   Commissioner David Stern presents Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns with the Most Valuable Player trophy before game one of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2006 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2006 at US Airways Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The 12th annual GM Survey from NBA.com is out. Nobody should be surprised that the Miami Heat remain the clear favorite to win another title, even if three-peats are elusive. It's also not a shocker that LeBron James earned a healthy 69 percent of GM predictions for the 2013-14 Most Valuable Player Award. For these and other choices, we simply won't know the final answer for some time. We can however, revisit some GM fails of the past.


 2012-13 Prediction: Lakers will win Western Conference 

 Reality: Lakers finish 7th

Last season, general managers generally got it right when they favored the Miami Heat to take the title at 70 percent. The Lakers were second at 23.3 percent, and favored by 60 percent to win the West. The Purple and Gold were coming off a lousy season but were given consideration due to their free-agency score of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

We all know how it turned out. The Lakers were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs, who would go on to win the Western Conference Championship. The Spurs were only favored to win the WCC by 7.1 percent of general managers. As for the Lakers, goodbye Dwight Howard, hello Achilles. 

2010-11 Prediction: Lakers will win Western Conference Finals

Reality: Lakers bounced in second round of playoffs

Going back a couple years to the start of the 2010-11 season, 96.4 percent of general managers picked the Lakers to win the WCC while 63 percent picked them to go all the way. Remember, this was to be Phil Jackson's glorious last stand. If successful, it would have been his fourth three-peat, his twelfth ring as a head coach and a perfect way to ride off into the sunset.

Instead, the Lakers were swept in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks, who would go on to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Mark Cuban is still obsessing about the Heat. The Mavericks were picked by only 3.6 percent to win the WCC. Nobody had them as the champions–truly an epic GM Survey fail.

2011 Prediction: Kevin Durant will win MVP

Reality: Derrick Rose wins MVP 

Also in 2011, Kevin Durant was favored as the Most Valuable Player by 66.7 percent of general managers. Who won that year? Derrick Rose, who was not only the youngest to ever be picked, but a guy who didn't receive a single GM nod.

2010 Prediction: Blake Griffin wins Rookie of the Year

Reality: Tyreke Evans wins Rookie of the Year 

Rookie races are often unpredictable. In 2010, 79.3 percent of general managers chose Blake Griffin as their ROY choice. As it turned out, he sat out the season, leaving Tyreke Evans, who nabbed just 6.9 percent of the GM vote, to take home the title. The following year, Griffin repeated his rookie season. Did he get the votes again? Not really. John Wall was favored by nearly 70 percent while Blake received 29 percent. Naturally, Griffin won. 

2008 Prediction: Spurs will win Western Conference

Reality: Lakers win Western Conference

In 2008, 51.9 percent of GMs picked the San Antonio Spurs to be Western Conference champs, while 37 percent picked them to go all the way. As it turned out, the Lakers, who nobody picked, won the WCC while the Boston Celtics, picked by only six percent of GMs, won the ring. The failure of the league's top executives to identify Boston as even a contender was certainly a lapse of judgment.

2004-05/2005-06 Predictions: Shaq/Tim Duncan win MVPs 

Reality: Steve Nash wins back-to-back MVPs

One of the most egregious omissions happened not once, but twice in a row. In the run-up to the 2004-05 season, general managers predicted that a still-dominant Shaquille O'Neal would take home the MVP. Nobody picked the eventual winner, Steve Nash. It's interesting to note that Bryan Colangelo, GM of the Phoenix Suns, was recognized by his peers as the NBA Executive of the Year that season. Of course, GMs can't vote for their own guys.

You might have figured that executives would have gotten it right the following season. Wrong. General mangers picked Tim Duncan by 58 percent to win the honors for the 2005-06 season. Once again, Steve Nash failed to garner a single vote. And once again, he won.

 What will they botch next?

When you put 30 GMs in a virtual room, asking 56 questions, you're bound to get a wide variety of answers. Sometimes the resulting majority doesn't tell the whole story. At the end of this season, there will no doubt be questions. For the first time in the survey's 12 years, Kobe Bryant failed to be the top vote-getter among shooting guards. Will that turn out to be a mistake?

On the other hand, another old warrior, Tim Duncan, is back as the top power forward after a three-year absence.

There's always winners and losers in the survey. Time will tell if this one gets it right, or is a fail.