LeBron James came West and that is going to end his streak of having gone to eight straight NBA Finals — but it will win him his fifth MVP award.
According to NBA general managers, at least.
The annual NBA survey of GMs was released Wednesday and there were plenty of things we expected and a few surprises. Here are the highlights of the list, starting with something not a surprise to anyone:
• 87 percent predict the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA title. There were a few contrarian votes, with both Boston and Houston each getting 7 percent.
• GMs predicted the top four teams in the East would be (in order) Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee. Yes, that means the GMs liked the Raptors adding Kawhi Leonard more than the Sixers, who lost a couple of shooters. The Bucks were in a virtual dead heat for fourth with the Pacers.
• GMs predicted the top four teams in the West would be (in order) Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah.
• The MVP race is going to be wide open, although LeBron came out on top it was close: LeBron James 30 percent, Kevin Durant 27 percent, Anthony Davis 17 percent, James Harden 10 percent, and another five players got at least one vote.
• Luka Doncic will win the Rookie of the Year, according to 47 percent of the GMs. Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter Jr. tied for second at 17 percent, followed by No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton at 13 percent. (Before you get indignant Suns fans, remember last season 62 percent of GMs thought Lonzo Ball would win ROY.)
• Which player will be the best out of this rookie class in five years? Ayton and Jaren Jackson Jr. tied for the top spot with 27 percent of the vote. Doncic came in third at 17 percent.
• If GMs could sign one player to start a franchise right now, it would be Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ forward got 30 percent of the vote. Second place went to Anthony Davis at 23 percent, followed by Kevin Durant at 20 percent. Interestingly, Karl-Anthony Towns won this category a year ago but this season did not receive one vote.
• LeBron is the player that makes opposing coaches make the most adjustments according to 60 percent of GMs.
• Rudy Gobert and Kawhi Leonard tied for the best defensive player in the NBA with 37 percent of the vote each (impressive for Leonard after a season off). Draymond Green was third with 17 percent, followed by Anthony Davis.
• Brad Stevens of Boston is the best coach in the NBA according to the GMs, winning what had been the annual Gregg Popovich award for a long time (Popovich was second with 30 percent of the vote).
• Once again, Chris Paul was voted as the player who would make the best head coach someday. (This will prompt the annual ritual of some reporter asking CP3 about it and Paul laughing in disgust at the idea.)