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Majority of GMs pick Cavaliers, not Warriors, to win NBA title

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NBA GMs think it will be a good year for the Cavs (2:34)

ESPN NBA writer Brian Windhorst breaks down the results of the annual NBA.com GM survey. (2:34)

The annual NBA.com general managers' survey revealed a fresh round of perceived disrespect toward the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

The GMs picked the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the title this season, as 53.8 percent of the votes were cast in their favor, according to the survey results released Tuesday.

What was more surprising, however, was the Warriors got just 17.9 percent of the votes, putting them behind the San Antonio Spurs, who got 25 percent.

It was the lowest percentage for a defending champion in the 13-year history of the survey, according to NBA.com.

This continues a trend that has left the Warriors having to defend themselves despite owning the best regular-season record, the best home record and placing at the top of key rankings in both offense and defensive metrics last season.

Because of their health, how the playoff bracket ended up falling and injuries suffered by opponents, some seem to believe the Warriors were "lucky."

This even seems to spread to defending Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, who received only 7.1 percent of the votes to win the MVP again -- tied for fifth with Russell Westbrook. LeBron James was picked as the favorite with 39.3 percent.

Over the summer, James' teammate Kyrie Irving told Shaquille O'Neal on a podcast that the Cavs "would have definitely won an NBA championship if everyone was healthy. But almost doesn't count."

The Warriors Draymond Green mocked Irving by saying: "I think if I was 6-foot-11, I'd be Anthony Davis."

Earlier this month in an interview with Grantland, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers teams "need luck in the West."

"Look at Golden State," Rivers said. "They didn't have to play us or the Spurs."

Klay Thompson issued the Warriors' response to that one, saying he "wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn't handle their business."

Now, it seems the Warriors have a new round of motivation with this survey.

Davis was tabbed as the player the GMs would pick if they were starting a franchise with a landslide 86 percent of the vote, knocking James from that perch from a year ago.

Davis also catapulted to the top of the GMs' best power forward rankings, passing Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge with 82 percent.

Curry did get some respect in this area, as he passed Chris Paul, the longtime incumbent in that spot, as the highest-regarded point guard at 55 percent.

The disrespected one on that question was Dwight Howard. A year ago, Howard was picked as the NBA's best center, but with back and knee problems ailing him plus falling statistics, he didn't get a single vote from the GMs. Marc Gasol ranked No. 1 at 66 percent.

The GMs selected No. 3 overall pick Jahil Oakfor as the most likely to win Rookie of the Year at 45 percent, just ahead of No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who got 35 percent. But just 10 percent of the GMs picked Okafor as being the best player in five years; Towns won that prediction in a landslide at 62 percent.

The Spurs, who are the anti-Warriors when it comes to league-wide respect, swept the coaching and front office categories. Gregg Popovich was the overwhelming choice as best coach, best manager/motivator, best with in-game adjustments and best at defensive schemes. Popovich was second in offensive schemes behind Steve Kerr of the Warriors.

The Spurs' front office got the nod for best overall offseason moves and with the move that will create the most impact, the signing of Aldridge. San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, who re-signed with the Spurs in the offseason, was also selected as the league's best overall defensive player.

Overall, the GMs responded to 49 different questions: the most ever. It included new queries, such as what rule most needs changed [the lottery was picked] and which new coach will make the most impact [New Orleans' Alvin Gentry got the nod].