Everyone loves preseason NBA predictions. Not even team general managers can pass up the opportunity to prognosticate. Every year, John Schuhmann of NBA.com surveys a pool of GMs to get their predictions for the upcoming season. It’s an interesting look into the thought processes of the league’s movers and shakers.
Schuhmann released the 2021-22 GM Survey Tuesday and some of the results are expected. The star-laden Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to win it all. GMs think the Los Angeles Lakers will coast to the top of the Western Conference. And Kevin Durant is their pick to win MVP. That’s all fine and well, but what do they think about the Dallas Mavericks? Let’s take a look at where the Mavs land on their list.
Unfortunately, the GMs don’t think Dallas will improve its playoff standings this season. The Mavericks sit in the seventh seed in the survey, capturing just 21 percent of fourth place votes.
Dallas—or rather Luka Doncic—fairs better when it comes to MVP predictions. While Durant is the favorite, Doncic is nipping at his heels. Durant has 37 percent of the overall vote while Doncic comes in second with 34 percent. Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a distant third with just 13 percent of the vote.
Doncic leads the field when it comes to players that the GMs would like to start a franchise with today. He earned 43 percent of the vote with Antetokounmpo coming in second with 40 percent. Doncic also received votes for the player that forces coaches to make the most adjustments.
Giannis gets his revenge on Luka when it comes to who GMs think is the best international player. The Greek Freak rakes in an overwhelming 60 percent of the vote. Luka Magic just has 27 percent. Rings matter, apparently.
It seems as though the league is still having a hard time defining Doncic’s role (he’s a point guard). GMs voted third best point guard in the league behind Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard. Along the same vein, Doncic ranks as the fourth best passer in the league.
They also declared him the third best shooting guard in the league. Only James Harden of the Nets and Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns rank higher.
It is still somewhat surprising that they can’t decide on Doncic’s position. It doesn’t really matter, though. The folks over at the seminal blog Free Darko introduced the concept—to me, at least—of positionless basketball over a decade ago. It’s long past time players are defined more for their position than what they can do on the court.
To that end, GMs consider Doncic the fourth most versatile player in the NBA and as having the third highest basketball IQ. They’re also comfortable with him taking the last shot with the game on the line. He ranks fourth behind Durant, Curry, and Lillard.
Focusing back on the Mavericks as a team, they garnered some votes for most improved in 2021-22. With an entirely new coaching staff and pretty much the same roster, that seems like a bit of a stretch, but hey, it’s not inconceivable.
Speaking of new coaches, Jason Kidd pulls in 11 percent of the vote of new head coaches who will have the biggest impact on their teams. Former Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, now with the Indiana Pacers, tops the list.
When the GMs aren’t watching their own teams, there’s a good chance they’re tuning in to watch the Mavs. Dallas is the fifth on the list of teams most fun to watch.
Agree or disagree with the GMs? Take a look at the full survey to see how other players and teams rank.