NBA general managers believe the Oklahoma City Thunder will finish fourth in the Western Conference, according to NBA.com’s most recent GM survey.
Seventeen percent of voters picked OKC to finish second in the West with 34 percent picking the team to finish third and 44 percent picking it fourth. The top three were the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, respectively. GMs were not allowed to vote for their own teams or players.
Maybe the most surprising Thunder-related part of the survey was that Russell Westbrook, the 2016-17 Most Valuable Player, received zero votes for most likely to win MVP. The five vote-getters included LeBron James (50 percent), Kevin Durant (29 percent), Kawhi Leonard (11 percent), James Harden (7 percent) and Stephen Curry (4 percent). Westbrook was also not listed as one of the seven players who received votes for, the player you would want if you were starting a franchise from scratch today.
He was picked as the second-best point guard in the NBA, receiving 28 percent of the vote and trailing Curry, who received 62 percent. Chris Paul and John Wall also received votes. Westbrook also blew out others as the NBA’s most athletic player, hauling in 62 percent. He was voted as the second-fastest player with the ball, as well, with his 45 percent finishing a step behind Wall’s 48 percent.
He finished fourth and received 7 percent of the vote for, the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments. James (48 percent) came in first in that category with Curry (21 percent) and Harden (14 percent) following.
Oddly, Paul George received one vote for best shooting guard in the NBA, even though he is and always has been a forward. George received no votes for best small forward with James, Durant and Leonard, respectively, soaking up all of those. Carmelo Anthony received zero votes for best at both forward spots, as well.
George did, however, show up in the voting, receiving 59 percent of the vote for best offseason acquisition, landing first place in a landslide. The Thunder traded shooting guard Victor Oladipo and power forward Domantas Sabonis to the Indiana Pacers for George just before the start of free agency.
It’s no surprise, in that case, the Thunder received 43 percent of the vote for best overall offseason moves, good for first place. The trade for George shocked GMs, too, finishing second behind the Kyrie Irving trade for most surprising offseason move. The deal for Anthony, in which the Thunder traded center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and the Chicago Bulls' 2018 second-round pick to the New York Knicks, received one vote in that category, as well.
Thunder center Steven Adams was picked as the NBA's toughest player, tying for first with Leonard and Draymond Green. Westbrook received a couple of votes in that category, as well.
Almost every GM picked the Warriors, who received 93 percent of the vote, to win the title. The Cavaliers received the remaining 7 percent. Since teams were not allowed to vote for themselves, that means only one non-Warriors GM voted for a team other than Golden State to win it all.
The Thunder received two votes for best homecourt advantage, good for second behind Golden State’s 76 percent.
Reigning All-Defensive Second-Teamer Andre Roberson received one vote for best perimeter defender in the NBA. The Thunder also pulled in a vote for best defensive team. Power forward Patrick Patterson got one for most underrated player acquisition. Rookie Terrance Ferguson, who the Thunder selected at No. 21 during this past June’s NBA Draft, received one vote for, the rookie who was the biggest steal where he was picked. OKC coach Adrian Griffin, meanwhile, got a vote for best assistant coach in the NBA.
Check out the GM survey in full here.
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as a host of the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.