Get your #WeBelieve memes ready everyone, because disrespect for the Lakers is at an all-time high. In the annual survey of league executives from John Schumann of NBA.com, 19% of the league’s GMs said that Lakers wouldn’t repeat as champions in 2021.
Now, framed differently, 81% of league executives are picking the Lakers to repeat, but sometimes it’s more fun to play the underdog:
81% of GMs picked the Lakers to repeat this season. For context, most (46%) picked the Clippers last year, so that is really high.https://t.co/RJzQkf0Zcx— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
As far as the ones who didn’t pick them, well, we may know who at least one of them is.
In all seriousness, though, the survey featured plenty of the respect LeBron James was seeking for the Lakers during his post-championship speech, albeit mixed in with some little slights that the team can use to motivate themselves as well. Let’s go through some of the highlights, with a few thoughts on it all mixed in.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are still considered good at basketball
Okay, so maybe the subhead above is a little facile, but considering how much James and Davis thrived on perceived slights last season, it’s also notable to see them getting recognized as... still the runners up in various categories, but getting recognized at the very least.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James also got some respect under the player predictions pic.twitter.com/PfpNCGITWS— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
It’s not particularly surprising that James and Davis aren’t seen as favorites for MVP, given the perception among most NBA circles that the Lakers will load manage quite a bit this year, but what was kind of incredible is to see LeBron still getting votes (at nearly 36!) for a player a GM would want to start a franchise with, and see Anthony Davis getting a bit of recognition as among the best young-ish players in the league that a team would want to build around.
After the playoffs last year, it’s kind of hilarious to not see James as the player that forces the most adjustments, but considering that he appears to have lost out by a slim margin, it’s hard to call this disrespect. The versatility that makes him such a tough cover was on full display in the next set of results
LeBron was voted the best passer and most versatile player in the NBA, and also got votes as the toughest pic.twitter.com/7ufUgcD5kZ— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
Can we talk about how insane it is that James, again, at age 36 is, is still getting ranked so highly at four different positions, including finishing higher than his co-star at the position Davis starts at? Whether James is your favorite player ever, or no matter where you have him in the greatest of all time discussion, appreciate what he’s doing now, because we may never see anything quite like it again.
Davis also got quite a bit of recognition from the league’s executives, but based on this voting, still somehow appears to be a bit underrated, even if he’s also clearly considered among the league’s best players.
AD got votes as the best defensive player in the league and best center, but finished as runner-up in both pic.twitter.com/XAqotXzqZx— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
Congrats to the GMs who voted Jokic over AD on not watching the playoffs. Don’t let your bosses make you work when you’re not on the clock!
Rob Pelinka got his damn respect, but Frank Vogel didn’t
While Pelinka may have only finished seventh (somehow) in executive of the year voting last season, the offseason he had with the Lakers couldn’t be ignored by his peers around the league. It remains to see if he’ll get credit for it in the spring, but he’s getting some love now. The same cannot be said for the head coach he brought in last offseason:
Frank Vogel got zero votes as the best head coach in the league pic.twitter.com/g6qa0FySGn— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
I understand that all the coaches on that list obviously deserve respect, but I am kind of surprised that Vogel got zero votes after one of the most well-coached playoff runs I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe it’s the so-called “LeBron effect” where everything his teams do gets credited to him — which is not his fault — but Vogel clearly deserved at least a vote or two in my view for the way he pushed all the right buttons during the Lakers’ run to the title.
Still, even if Vogel isn’t getting any credit for that, I guess at least someone on his staff is?
Jason Kidd, meanwhile, got 7% of the vote as the league's best assistant pic.twitter.com/OOCAZX0vJu— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
Anyway, these votes are weird, but nothing is weirder than the last takeaway because...
The disrespect never stops
And to wrap up this thread, not a single Laker got votes as the player a GM would want taking the final shot with the game on the line. pic.twitter.com/xtCsEdNYB4— Undisputed's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 18, 2020
Amazingly, none of these unbelievable clutch shot-makers got out of the first round of the playoffs except for Jamal Murray. Only Doncic hit a buzzer-beater in the playoffs last year. So again, congrats to all the GMs who skipped the playoffs. Why watch if you’ve been eliminated anyway? We stan kings who understand work/life balance. And guys who — even with as much love as the Lakers got in this survey — gave LeBron something else to passive aggressively post about all season.