It’s that wonderful, magical time of the year again: the GM Survey has been released. It’s a time we get upset, call GMs stupid and biased, and instantly create bulletin board material anytime we disagree with something. All the while, we take great honor and accept a positive survey result as an authority on a topic just because we agree with it. All from the same great (mostly incendiary) list.
Let’s take a look at how the Houston Rockets and their players stacked up this year.
Which team will win the NBA Finals?
I wanted to save this for last because you typically save the most important thing for last, but Houston didn’t get any votes on this survey. As expected, the Los Angeles Clippers (46%) and the Milwaukee Bucks (36%) were the leading vote-getters. The most surprising is the Los Angeles Lakers coming in third at 11 percent. Or maybe I’m just the last to know here.
All I know is that the Golden State Warriors with their four All-Stars will probably blow up a poster of this for their locker room and do “We’re still here” chants to their crowd in the playoffs. Yuck.
Ranking the top four in the West
OK, so before I reveal where Houston places, I want you to name to yourself which teams will be in which of the eight spots come playoff time. Now, where do you have Houston?
Now that those numbers are in your head, here’s the reveal.
The Rockets come in at fifth.
Ahead of them at one and two are the Clippers and Denver Nuggets. And I can see that. I get that even. Doesn’t matter if I agree. Here’s where it gets dicey for me.
The Lakers and the Utah Jazz come in at three and four respectively. That, I can’t agree with or even get. Houston has bounced the Jazz, quickly, from the playoffs each of the last two years. The Lakers dismantled their entire team that placed 10th in the West last year. I can get that they got Anthony Davis and some other key pieces, but to have them ahead of the Rockets already? Crazy.
Maybe they think Russell Westbrook is really that much of a factor.
Which team is the most fun to watch?
Houston didn’t place in the top five in this category, but they did receive votes, and I just wanted to point that out for fun.
So I really didn’t want to include any stuff Rockets players aren’t on, but I figured this was worth mentioning given that Harden won MVP two seasons ago and had a very strong bid for MVP last year.
Harden didn’t place in the top five this year, but if the “Also receiving votes” section means anything in order, he possibly garnered up six percent of the vote.
I did want to point out something interesting here, though. The year Harden won MVP, he got only seven percent of the MVP vote in the survey. The year after, he actually received 10 percent of the vote. This year, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo receives 52 percent of the vote. Is there a correlation?
Granted, this is the first year in past three years (probably going back much further) that LeBron James didn’t get the majority of the MVP vote, but I just wanted to see if there was discussion to be had.
Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments?
Harden leading this category is probably the biggest win for Houston in the player categories, and easily one of the most impressive things to win.
For James Harden, the progression of creativity, ability, and overall dominance really comes through with his scores from the past three years. In the 2017 surveys, the year after Harden led the league in assists, he got 14 percent (third place) of the vote in the category; LeBron led with 48 percent. In 2018, the year after he won MVP, Harden was second with 20 percent of the vote; LeBron led with a whopping 60 percent.
Now, the survey the year after he averaged the most points in a season since Michael Jordan’s 1987 insane scoring bout, Harden runs away with 48 percent of the vote. Insane. There has clearly been a shift from LeBron as he heads towards the twilight of his career, but this is a hard category to receive such a vast majority in.
Tied for second, LeBron and Stephen Curry tied for 17 percent. Giannis got 14 percent. Kevin Durant rounds it out at three percent.
Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?
As expected, Harden dominates this category at 86 percent. Actually, it’s quite disrespectful that he received only 86 percent of the vote, but it is what it is. Still, it’s a huge jump from the 73 percent of the vote he received last season.
Which head coach runs the best offense?
Mike D’Antoni comes in tied for second place in this category with 14 percent, along with Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks and Terry Stotts of Portland.
Which player is the most athletic?
This is both awesome and still weird to say, but newly acquired Russell Westbrook comes in tied for third at seven percent of the vote in this category. Last year, he led this category with 48 percent. Interestingly enough, Zion Williamson leads this category at 41 percent, Giannis received only 28 percent, and LeBron isn’t on this list.
What exactly is athletic to them?
Which player is the fastest with the ball?
Again, Westbrook places in an athleticism category, coming in second with 25 percent of the vote. De’Aaron Fox received 64 percent of the vote. In his defense, Fox is really fast.
Which player is the best passer?
Harden comes in fourth with four percent of the vote. Former Rockets player Chris Paul comes in right ahead of him at seven percent.
Who is the toughest player in the NBA?
The coolest guy in the NBA, P.J. Tucker, gets a much deserved nod in this list. The NBA Sneaker and Pancake King actually places third with 14 percent of this vote. Honestly, I of course, would have put him first, but in first place is Steven Adams, and it’s actually pretty hard to argue with that.
On the other hand, Draymond comes in second at 18 percent, and while he is a tough player, he’s not tougher than Tucker.
That sums up all the significant placements for the Rockets. They did land in other categories, but just in the “Also receiving votes” spots, and they really weren’t that important. Feel free to check it out for yourself, though.
Which ranking are you most happy with? With ranking do you totally disagree with? What other categories should the team have landed in?