General managers predict Kevin Durant will be the 2010-2011 MVP.
Every preseason, the NBA.com GM Survey offers insight into the thinking of executives around the league.
This year the survey sends a strong message: GMs are not enamored with LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
They tell this story most starkly by almost completely ignoring the two-time reigning MVP James in predicting this season's MVP.
Last year, James won the MVP award by the second-biggest margin in MVP voting history. The season before that he won by almost as much. (Over the last two seasons, he has earned 225 out of a possible 246 first-place MVP votes.) At 25, James is at an age generally considered to be a player in his prime, he's expected to win more than ever thanks to his new teammates, and by objective measures of individual production he has been the only NBA player of his age to rival Michael Jordan.
However, in this season's GM survey, James received a single vote, out of 28 GMs surveyed, as the player most likely to win MVP. The Thunder's Kevin Durant -- fresh off a stellar performance for Team USA -- was the runaway favorite, winning 67 percent of the vote. Kobe Bryant -- who did not get a single first-place MVP vote last season -- was second with 26 percent. Like James, Dwight Howard received a single vote.
Although Las Vegas lines show the Heat to be the favorites among bettors, 63 percent of the GMs surveyed picked the Lakers to three-peat. Thirty-three percent of the executives picked the Heat to win, while 4 percent chose the Celtics.
Other findings of the GM survey:
The Wizards' John Wall, this year's top overall pick, earned 68 percent of the vote as this year's likely rookie of the year. Last year's top pick, the Clippers' Blake Griffin, will also be a rookie after missing a season to injury, and received 29 percent of the vote.
For the first time, Deron Williams (50 percent) of the Utah Jazz was voted as the top point guard in the league, overtaking the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul (36 percent).
The Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki (29 percent) and Lakers’ Pau Gasol (29 percent) finished tied as the best power forward in the league, replacing the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, who had been selected as the best at his position for the past eight years.
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (96 percent) was voted as the top center.
The Heat’s James (68 percent) was named the best small forward.
The Lakers’ Bryant (86 percent) was voted the best shooting guard. Bryant is currently the only player to have been selected as the best at his position every year of the survey.
Thirty-nine percent of GMs believe the Heat will be the most improved team in 2010-11 while 14 percent of general managers feel the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards would be the most improved teams.
For the ninth consecutive season, Bryant (79 percent) was also selected by GMs as the player they most want taking the shot with the game on the line.
Nowitzki (57 percent) was voted the top international player.
Durant (56 percent) was voted as the top player GMs would sign to start an NBA franchise.
The Boston Celtics (100 percent) were unanimously picked to win the Atlantic Division, Chicago Bulls (82 percent) in the Central Division and the Miami Heat (74 percent) in the Southeast Division. In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers (96 percent) were predicted to win the Pacific Division, the Dallas Mavericks (71 percent) in the Southwest Division, and the Oklahoma City Thunder (63 percent) in the Northwest Division.
The Lakers’ Phil Jackson was voted the best head coach (39 percent).
The Magic’s Dwight Howard was voted best defensive player (78 percent).
The Bulls’ Derrick Rose was voted fastest with the ball (21 percent).
The Suns’ Steve Nash won the vote as best passer (75 percent).
The Clippers' Griffin tied the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook as the most likely to have a breakout season (15 percent).
The Oklahoma City Thunder were called the most fun team to watch (52 percent).
The Celtics’ Ray Allen was voted the best pure shooter (54 percent).
The Utah Jazz were voted the team with the best home court advantage (46 percent).