Throughout his distinguished career, Kobe Bryant has been well-known for using negative comments as motivational fuel for his play on the court. Now in his thirties and coming off a career-altering injury, many are starting to doubt whether Bryant can be the same elite player that he has been in the past, including apparently, the NBA's General Managers.
For the first time in the 12-year history of the NBA's GM Survey, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (20%) was not selected as the best player at his position, as the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (56.7%) earned the most votes in the category of NBA's best two guard.
Undoubtedly, Bryant's injury played a major role in that rationale, as nobody knows for certain if he can step in and maintain his customary level of play. But perhaps there also is another contingent among NBA executives who feel that Harden's breakthrough season and projected upside would put him atop the list regardless of Bryant's health.
In either case, expect the notoriously-driven Bryant to now be on a mission to prove that he is still 1) the same player as before the injury, 2) better than Harden, and 3) capable of taking a team to an NBA title.
The general managers also predicted that the Miami Heat (75.9%) will capture their third consecutive NBA title and that LeBron James (69%) will win his third straight NBA MVP award.
Other honors included Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (80%) receiving the most votes for NBA Rookie of the Year and the Chicago Bulls (43.3%) being recognized as the top defensive team. San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (53.3%) was viewed as the league’s best international player.
GMs have correctly picked The Finals winner six out of the previous 11 years, including last year’s prediction of the Heat winning it all. This year, the other top vote getters for NBA champion were the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, both tied for second with 6.9 percent of votes.
The survey involved the general managers from all 30 teams on the upcoming 2013-14 NBA season, and gathered their responses on the best teams, players, coaches, fans, offseason moves, and more. The GMs were not allowed to vote for their own team or personnel.
Other noteworthy responses included the Detroit Pistons being deemed the Most Improved Team (16.7%), and Chauncey Billups of Detroit being selected as the active player who would make the best head coach (32.1%). In addition, the Nets-Celtics trade and the Andre Iguodala to Golden State deals received equal votes for the Most Surprising Offseason Move (21.4%).
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services