Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat

GMs predict Heat to win title, Kevin Durant MVP

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The annual NBA survey of team general managers is out and — shockingly — they think the Miami Heat are very good. Same with that Kevin Durant guy. So, they see the world pretty much like the rest of this.

In the annual survey of team executives, 74.1 percent of the GMs think the Miami Heat will win the NBA title, with Oklahoma City second (14.8) and the Los Angeles Lakers third (7.4). The Heat win this with a pretty wide margin, but the GMs are not always accurate (63 percent thought the Lakers would three-peat last season.)

Oklahoma City will come out of the West, according to 67.9 percent of the GMs. While the Lakers were second (17.9 percent), interestingly 7.1 percent liked Portland and the same number liked San Antonio.

As for Divisions, 64.3 percent thought Boston would win the Atlantic Division. They would like their vote back. The 21.4 percent that picked the 76ers look pretty smart right now. Also on the other coast, the GMs were not sold on the Clippers as 77.8 percent of GMs still thought the Lakers would win the Pacific.

GMs seem to think MVP is a two-man race — Kevin Durant (55.6 percent) and LeBron James (44.4 percent). No mention of Derrick Rose. Interesting.

When asked what player they would choose to start a franchise, it was a tie between Durant and James at 37 percent. However, when asked what opposing player forces the most plan adjustments, the winner was Dwight Howard at 29.6 percent (followed by Durant, James, Dirk Nowitzki and Rose).

Howard was named the best defensive player in the league in a landslide. Tony Allen won best perimeter defender over Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant. (Really, Kobe? Have they watched much of him the last three years? Not the same defender.) GMs also thought the Bulls were the best defensive team. Duh.

Rose was named the best point guard in the league with 59.3 percent of the vote. Kobe Bryant was the best two guard (55.6 percent, ahead of Dwyane Wade at 40.7), LeBron was the best small forward, Nowitzki the best five and Howard the best center.

Kobe was named the toughest player in the league by GMs. Kevin Love was named player who does the most with the least (raw skill).

The Clippers did clean up categories such as “best offseason move” and “team who will improve the most,” as you might expect.

As for the rookies, 63 percent of GMs think Kyrie Irving would win rookie of the year, with Ricky Rubio second (18.5 percent). When asked who from this class will be the best five years from now, Irving won with 51.9 percent of the vote, with a three way tie behind him (Rubio, Jonas Valanciunas and Derrick Williams). Norris Cole was the GMs pick as rookie most likely to surprise.

Gregg Popovich cleaned up the coaching awards. Hard to knock that.

Dwyane Wade ‘honored’ to be Prince’s favorite player

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Dwyane Wade says he’s feeling “all kinds of emotions” after hearing that he was Prince’s favorite basketball player.

The Miami Heat star took to Twitter after hearing Prince’s comments in a 2012 Australian radio interview the late pop icon conducted with model Damaris Lewis.

Prince died last month at his Minnesota home at the age of 57.

Referees admit error at end of Thunder/Spurs, will add call to training in future

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It’s hard to describe the final play of the Thunder Game 2 win over the Spurs and the officiating during it for a family-friendly publication such as this. The phrase I want to use starts with “cluster” but that’s as far as I can go.

The officiating crew missed a host of calls during those final 13 seconds, but they have at least owned up to the most egregious one — missing Dion Waiters pushing off Manu Ginobili while the Thunder guard tried to inbound the ball. (Yes, Ginobili’s foot was on the line, but sorry Thunder homers that was not close to the most egregious miss at the end.)

After the game, the lead official Kenny Mauer admitted that error.

Now the NBA referee’s union released this statement:

Did that decide the game? No. We like to focus on things we can blame as going wrong, but the Spurs offense started 2-of-15 shooting on the night, was inconsistent, and they still had a chance at the end. This one play is not why the Spurs lost. Manu Ginobili said it well postgame.

Raptors’ Bismack Biyombo given after-the-fact Flagrant 2 for elbow to Pacers’ Turner, no suspension

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26:  Bismack Biyombo #8 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates a dunk late in the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 26, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Bismack Biyombo is going to be key for Toronto in their second round series against Miami. The Raptors will need his rim protection when Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade start to drive.

Which is why the Raptors are lucky he did not get suspended for this blow from Game 7 vs. the Pacers (watch Biyombo elbow Myles Turner in the face in the middle of the key):

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At the time there was no call — as bad a miss as anything from the end of the Thunder/Spurs game — but after the fact the NBA has assessed a flagrant 2 foul on Biyombo.

However, no mention of a suspension for this incident alone. The Raptors catch a break there, as Biyombo should have been tossed from the game and/or given a suspension for that elbow. That said, one more flagrant and he does get a suspension.

NBA’s Basketball Without Borders to host first event in Australia

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21:  A general view is seen of the city skyline over Melbourne Park during day three of the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Andrew Bogut. Dante Exum. Matthew Dellavedova. Patty Mills. Joe Ingles. Technically Kyrie Irving (he was born there but plays internationally for the USA).

Australia has brought a fair amount of talent — and scrappy players — to the NBA, and now the NBA is taking one of its outreach programs there.

Yesterday the NBA, FIBA, and Australia’s National Basketball League announced a Basketball without Borders event June 23-26 at Dandenong Basketball Stadium in Melbourne. It’s the first time the community outreach program will come to the island nation of Australia.

“We are pleased to partner with FIBA and the NBL to bring the first Basketball without Borders camp to Australia,” NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy said in a statement. “The league has seen a surge of Australian talent in recent years, and we look forward to supporting the next generation by giving them a platform to showcase their skills alongside their peers from throughout the region.”

These events bring in youth basketball players and work with them, both giving young players highest quality instruction and raising the profile of the sport in the nation with a little star power. Basketball Without Borders will celebrate 15 years this summer and has been all over the globe with similar events.

Now they can check Australia off the list.