NBA.com released its 19th annual GM survey earlier this week and, as always, the Los Angeles Lakers were well-represented. However, the results of this year’s survey didn’t cause as much of a stir among Lakers fans as last year’s did — not even close.
Last year, NBA GMs voted the Lakers as the team with the third-best odds to win the NBA championship behind the LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. They also predicted that the Lakers would finish with the third-best record in the Western Conference behind the Clippers and Denver Nuggets. This year, the Lakers are overwhelming favorites across the board.
In this year’s survey, 81% of the NBA GMs that participated in the survey picked the Lakers to win the 2021 NBA Finals. The Clippers, who got the highest percentage of votes (41%) last year, ranked second this year at 11%. The Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat also received votes.
Those results may seem predictable given the fact that the Lakers won a championship two months ago, but the Lakers appeared to be the favorite last year too and they weren’t, and if they were, it wasn’t reflected in the NBA GM survey. So what’s the difference between last year and this year?
For one, LeBron James and Anthony Davis proved they were the best duo in the NBA. Secondly, James and Frank Vogel have shown that they can have a productive working relationship. However, the most notable change between this year and last year seems to be the amount of confidence NBA GMs have in the supporting cast around James and Davis.
According to the survey, most GMs think the Lakers had the best offseason of any team:
1. Los Angeles Lakers – 37%
2. Phoenix Suns – 22%
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – 15%
4. Atlanta Hawks – 7%
Milwaukee Bucks – 7%
Philadelphia 76ers – 7%
7. Portland Trail Blazers – 4%
And if the reigning NBA champions had the best offseason of any team, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to repeat as champions.
If Lakers fans need something to be upset about going to into the season, it’s that Frank Vogel didn’t receive any votes for the “best head coach in the NBA.” Erik Spoelstra, who coached against Vogel in the NBA Finals last season and lost, received the most votes for the “best head coach in the NBA” category. Make it make sense.
Equally confusing was the fact that Anthony Davis didn’t receive the most votes for the “best power forward” or “best center” category. Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James finished ahead of him in the “best power forward” category and Nikola Jokic finished ahead of him in the “best center” category. Watch the 2020 Western Conference Finals and tell me that Jokic is better than Davis — I dare you.
Overall, though, it seems like everyone has bought into what the Lakers are selling this season: they’re the favorites. Now, we just have to hope that the Lakers can keep the chip they had on their shoulder last season — if not for themselves, then for Frank. Give that man his respect, people.