It appears many NBA general managers expect the Celtics to compete for the Eastern Conference title this season.
In the annual NBA GM survey that was released Friday, 66 percent of the league’s general managers rank the Celtics as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. Four percent predict the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference, with seven percent ranking them as the second-best team, 25 percent ranking them as the third-best, and 30 percent ranking them as the fourth-best.
The Milwaukee Bucks lead the way for the best team in the East, according to the general managers. The Bucks received 64 percent of the first-place votes in the conference, with the Brooklyn Nets in second with 25 percent of the first-place votes. Last year’s Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat, are third with seven percent of the first-place votes.
None of the general managers predict the Celtics to win the NBA title this season. The majority of them expect the Lakers to repeat as champions, with 81 percent of the general managers picking them to win the NBA title. The Clippers, Nets, and Heat also received votes from general managers on who they think will win it all this season.
In the questions about players, Jayson Tatum received some love from the general managers. Tatum received votes from general managers when asked “Which player is most likely to have a breakout season?” and “Who is the league’s most versatile player?” Thunder guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. received the most votes on who will have a breakout season. Lakers forward LeBron James received the most votes on who is the league’s most versatile player.
With Tatum still being just 22 years old, the Celtics have one of the best young cores in the league. Eleven percent of the general managers picked the Celtics’ young core as the most promising, tied for third with the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets. They trailed the Pelicans (41 percent) and Grizzlies (21 percent) in the vote for that category.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is looked at highly by the league’s general managers. Eleven percent say Stevens is the league’s best coach and 15 percent believe Stevens is the coach that is best at making in-game adjustments. Stevens trailed Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Raptors coach Nick Nurse, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the voting for the best head coach in the league. He trailed Spoelstra, Nurse, and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle in the vote for which coach is the best at making in-game adjustments.
When asked who is the toughest player in the league, 14 percent of the general managers picked Marcus Smart, which was tied for the third-most votes with Heat forward Jimmy Butler. Pelicans center Steven Adams led the way, receiving 32 percent of the votes.
The Celtics’ signing of Tristan Thompson was also picked by a general manager as the most underrated acquisition this offseason. Gordon Hayward’s move to Charlotte was seen as the surprise acquisition of the offseason by general managers, with 54 percent of them voting Hayward’s signing as the surprise move of the offseason.
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