In the midst of discussing the Blazers' inaugural pre-season contest you might be interested in checking out NBA.com's annual survey of NBA General Managers. Much like the census bureau or an over-eager first date, they put a ton of questions to the league's GMs. Then, much like the census bureau or an over-eager first date, after it was all over they blabbed about it to everyone in the universe.
Not every GM responded to every question. Percentages are based on the responses given, not the number of GMs overall. I believe the Honorable Mention occurs if even one GM (
possibly your own Edit: Can't do that. I'm relieved.) puts your name down, so bear that in mind. Still, it's as good a look as we can get at the collective wisdom of a bunch of guys who base their livelihoods and reputations on knowing the game inside and out.
A few of the general questions to whet your appetite before we talk about the Blazers specifically:
Which team will win NBA Finals 2010?
- L.A. Lakers - 60.7%
- Boston - 17.9%Cleveland - 17.9%
- San Antonio - 3.6%
Last year: L.A. Lakers - 46.2%
Which team will win the Eastern Conference?
- Boston - 50.0%
- Cleveland - 42.9%
- Orlando - 7.1%
Last year: Boston - 74.1%
Which team will win the Western Conference?
- L.A. Lakers - 75.9%
- San Antonio - 24.1%
Last year: L.A. Lakers - 66.7%
Who will win the 2009-10 MVP?
- LeBron James, Cleveland - 69.0%
- Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers - 17.2%
- Dwight Howard, Orlando - 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Tim Duncan, San Antonio ; Dwyane Wade, Miami
Last year: LeBron James - 55.6%
Which team made the best overall moves this summer?
- San Antonio - 71.2%
- Orlando - 17.3%
Also receiving votes: Cleveland , Toronto , Washington
Last year: Philadelphia - 51.9%
Which team will be most improved in 2009-10?
- Washington - 48.3%
- L.A. Clippers - 17.2%
- Oklahoma City - 13.8%4. Toronto - 6.9%
Also receiving votes: Boston , Memphis , Minnesota , San Antonio
Last year: Miami , Portland - 25.9%
As you can see, the Blazers got no mention in any of these categories. Where did Portland show up?
The biggest category was Northwest Division victor, where the Blazers edged out the Nuggets 42.9% to 39.3% (which is pretty much 1 vote). The Jazz ended up with 17.9%.
As you just saw, nobody predicted the Blazers to win the Western Conference Finals nor (obviously) the NBA Championship.
The Blazers got no votes for best offseason acquisition but they did tie for 4th (with five other teams) for the most underrated offseason acquisition in Andre Miller.
Portland finished 3rd with the L*kers behind Cleveland and Utah for best homecourt advantage.
The Blazers got no mention for best offensive or defensive schemes. In fact they did not show up anywhere in the defensive categories period, team or individual,
On the plus side Portland got an honorable mention as the team that's most fun to watch.
The Blazers fared a little better in the individual categories, but not much. The most striking result was three Blazers getting honorable mentions as being the most likely to have a breakout year. Those three were Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy. One wonders how much farther Roy can break out, or whose notice he has escaped.
Brandon Roy also got honorable mention for best shooting guard in the league, which was probably the most prestigious individual accolade a Blazer received in this survey.
Rudy Fernandez didn't get any votes for best international player but he did finish first in the Most Likely International Player to Have a Breakout Season category. Nicolas Batum got honorable mention in that same category. Evidently somebody somewhere thinks everybody on the Blazers will bust out big time this season. The only thing missing was a Przybilla vote.
Six coaches were listed as possibilities for best coach in the league but Nate McMillan was not among them. Nate did get an honorable mention vote in the category of Best Manager/Motivator. 14 names were listed as possibilities for most valuable assistant coach but no Blazers were among them.
Brandon Roy made honorable mention in Best Basketball IQ. Nobody cast a vote for him as the player you'd want shooting with the game on the line though...which seems like a significant omission from here.
No Blazers got any votes in the categories of Best Leader, Best Finisher, Player Who Forces Opposing Coaches to Make the Most Adjustments, or Best Pure Shooter. Depending on your definition some Blazer shooting guards could have certainly qualified.
And that's about it. If nothing else it's interesting to see the forest perspective when we've all but chained ourselves to the trees. If you had to sum up an impression of the Blazers from this survey it would probably read "Interesting...perhaps intriguing...but not yet distinctive or elite." Portland certainly got more mentions than average or low-end teams but not as many as Blazer fans would want. Overall it seems like a reasonable assessment given where the team is and what it's accomplished. Perhaps next year's survey will feature more (and higher) mentions.
The link above will take you to the survey index page from which you can peruse all of the questions and responses.