NBA general managers are bullish on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of the 2015-16 season, choosing James as the projected MVP en route to a Cavs title. But he's no longer the front office executives' choice as the No. 1 franchise building block, an honor now held by the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com passed along the results of the annual GM survey Tuesday that covers numerous topics about the upcoming campaign. Cleveland was chosen to win the Eastern Conference by 96.6 percent of respondents, and 53.6 percent picked them to win the NBA championship.
The San Antonio Spurs were the general managers' second title choice at 25 percent, followed by the reigning champion Golden State Warriors at 17.9 percent.
GMs selected James as the top MVP choice with nearly 40 percent of the vote. Davis finished second at 25 percent in that discussion, but he received an eye-popping 86.2 percent of the vote when GMs were asked whom their first choice would be to start a new franchise.
The voting also included the best player at each position. Based on those results, this would be the All-NBA starting five:
|2015-16 GM Survey Starting Lineup|
|Position||Player||Team||% of Vote|
The individual whom general managers would want coaching that group earned nearly unanimous approval. The Spurs' Gregg Popovich received an overwhelming 93.1 percent of the vote as best coach and also finished first in best manager of people, best in-game adjustments and best defensive scheme.
San Antonio also received key accolades in two other categories. Kawhi Leonard was voted as the league's best defender, edging out Davis, and the Spurs were chosen as the team that had the best offseason, due in large part to the acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge.
GMs chose Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers as the preseason Rookie of the Year with nearly 45 percent of votes. Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) finished second and was the runaway choice as the best player from the group in five years (62.1 percent).
Finally, while Warriors fans won't be happy their team was the third choice in the title vote, the general managers did give them some props, as 65.5 percent of voters chose Golden State as having the best home-court advantage.
While the survey didn't yield any shocking results, choosing the Cavs as the title favorite despite Tristan Thompson's holdout and the team's injury concerns, including James, Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, may come as a minor surprise. The weakness of the East compared to the West plays a key role in that, though.
Of course, last year's voting picked the Spurs as the clear favorites to win the title. The eventual champion Warriors finished sixth in the voting with just 3.8 percent support.