Surveys. Some like to fill them out, providing insight to their point-of-view and predictions. Others can find them annoying and tend to select option “A” and continue on with their day. When it comes to the 19th Annual NBA.com GM Survey (what a fancy name! It’s like the GRAMMYs), you can most certainly expect the former rather than the latter.
The survey provides an understanding of how the general managers in the NBA view their peers, from their operational performance to the teams they have assembled. Which team possesses an asset that others yearn for? Who did their job in the offseason to elevate their team? Who is the biggest threat to win the title?
When looking at last season’s GM survey (that would be the 18th Annual NBA.com GM Survey...so official), like all pre-season previews, you find that they don’t know everything. Shocker. Thankfully life is not that predictable. The Clippers didn’t win the title as predicted by 46% of GM’s (that Lakers received 11% of the vote), Steph Curry (due to injury) wasn’t the best point guard in the game, and Utah’s addition of Mike Conley probably wasn’t the most underrated player acquisition. So we know not everything predicted by those who mange teams...generally...will come to fruition.
There are plenty of prophesies, however, that Suns fans would like to witness. The expectations that the Phoenix Suns organization has received nationally has permeated the conclusions provided via the surveys.
While there are multiple categories and numerous results, let’s take a look at where the Phoenix Suns were mention and shone bright.
Which team made the best overall moves this offseason?
- Los Angeles Lakers – 37%
- Phoenix Suns – 22%
- Oklahoma City Thunder – 15%
- Atlanta Hawks – 7%
- Milwaukee Bucks – 7%
- Philadelphia 76ers – 7%
James Jones receiving some love from his peers; you have to appreciate this. For so long the Suns organization has been viewed as dysfunctional and flawed. The long and winding road to playoff basketball has avoided the team due to their own operations. It appears that, in the eyes of the league, that perception is changing.
Jones had an active offseason post-Bubble, acquiring Jae Crowder, E’Twaun Moore, Damion Jones, Langston Galloway, among others. The bench now has veteran depth rather than a base of rookies.
Oh yeah, he also signed that ‘Point God’ guy...
Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?
- Chris Paul – 44%
- Jrue Holiday – 33%
- Serge Ibaka – 7%
There is it. The league knows that the weight has shifted in the Western Conference and the relevancy of the Phoenix Suns is tied to the reputation of excellence Chris Paul brings. Nearly half of the league view his addition as the most impactful.
The assumption isn’t that Chris Paul will lead the league in assists, I presume. His influence will be on his teammates, providing them the opportunity to flourish as basketball players and grow as individuals.
The strength of the columns that hold the ceiling of this team are directly tied to CP3. It is more than on-court execution that he brings. It’s constant coaching. It’s video study. It’s how to be a responsible steward in your daily approach to the game. It’s accountability and professionalism.
You know it. I know it. The league knows it. Chris Paul will make those around him better. Therefore...
Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2020-21?
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/Michael Porter Jr. – 15%
- Michael Porter Jr. – 15%
- De’Aaron Fox – 12%
- Devin Booker – 8%
- Zion Williamson – 8%
Deandre Ayton also received votes for this category, as did Mikal Bridges. The Chris Paul butterfly effect. The expectation league-wide is he will excel the game of Booker and Ayton. Bridges is the low-key beneficiary of Paul’s presence. He see plenty of one-on-one looks as the opposition attempts to compensate for a deadly pick-and-roll, an All-Star shooter, and a guy named JA3 who likes to drift to the three-point line.
Devin is primed to make a real impact on the league and the expectation that he should be a perennial All-Star is not far fetched. His game is beyond polished, it’s lethal. If he chooses to take more 3-points and truly become a three-level scoring threat, he’ll score 30 per-game. Bet.
Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA?
- James Harden – 68%
- Bradley Beal – 11%
- Luka Doncic – 11%
- Jimmy Butler – 7%
- Devin Booker – 4%
I would probably have Booker rated higher on this list, but they didn’t me, did they? As stated above, Booker is in line for a special year. He is primed for his prime and he will wear purple and orange while he is setting the league on fire. My guess? He’ll he #1 or #2 on the 20th Annual NBA.com GM Survey.
Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
- Chris Paul – 36%
- Rajon Rondo – 29%
- Udonis Haslem/Garrett Temple – 7%
We have seen in micro-doses this preseason what this team looks like with CP3’s presence and how many options are available offensively. We have also seen his affinity for peer-to-peer coaching, which is why Ayton deserved some mods in this category. If he learns from Paul, puts in the work, and executes what he has studied, DominAYTON will become actualized.
"You can't pay for that to have a guy like Chris sit down with Deandre and just look at film and talk and teach." Monty Williams.— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 17, 2020
Chris Paul breaking down last night's #Suns-Lakers game with Deandre Ayton this morning one of many benefits of having an all-time great in Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/NTvOWMszgS
Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?
- Damian Lillard – 32%
- Stephen Curry25%
- Kevin Durant – 18%
- Luka Doncic – 11%
- Chris Paul – 7%
When games come down the final minute and things are close, the Suns now have a duel threat in the backcourt. Will it be Booker taking the buzzer beater? Or will it be Paul? The league believes it will be CP3. Cool. You double him. Leave Booker open >wink<
Oh, and let Luka take all of the final shots he wants. He shot 36.1% from the field during clutch-time moments last season and 17.1% from three. Sorry for the shade. They had him listed as a shooting guard above and I let that go. I couldn’t help myself on this one.
Which player is the best passer?
- LeBron James, L.A. Lakers – 46%
- Nikola Jokic, Denver – 25%
- Luka Doncic/Chris Paul– 14%
Another nice accolade for Paul. A team that has been in dire need of a true point guard has one. No offense to Ricky Rubio. He was fantastic. Paul receives the respect that no one gave Papa Ricky.
Note that he is the only true point guard distributor on this list. My, has the league changed...
Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference:
It might not be much, be it beats where the Phoenix Suns have be predicted to finish since the Nash Era. Notice the italicized text on the bottom and how two of the predicted top-8 last season did not clinch a playoff berth. You can’t foresee injuries; you can’t anticipate poor chemistry.
There are areas that, as Suns fans, you might find fault in when reviewing the surveys. No love for “the most promising young core” despite 3 players being on the “breakout season” list. Jae Crowder didn’t make the long “most underrated acquisition” list. Seeing Tyrese Haliburton as the “biggest steal” of the draft hurts considering he was right there for the taking.
We leave this list in the rearview as the season is set to begin in less than a week. The belief is that the Suns are going to make waves this year in the Western Conference. Based on the results of this survey, they will not be taking anyone by storm like the 2004-05 squad did. General managers know that Phoenix has turned the corner.
The respect is out there. The expectations are out there. Time to execute.