The Toronto Raptors received respect, both as an organization and individually, in the NBA's GM survey. Let's take a closer look at how we did.
With the NBA season about to tip off, the time is right to take a look at the annual survey of General Managers. The league asks the 30 men (maybe someday I'll be writing "people", but not yet) who run the teams for their anonymous views on a host of questions.
The results are here, though I'm going to comment only on responses pertaining to the Toronto Raptors.
The GMs guys are all-in on the Boston Celtics. The Raptors registered 10% of the votes in favour of their chances of finishing first in the Eastern Conference; Boston got the rest. There's a negative inference to be drawn about the Philadelphia 76ers. Lots of media people are calling for Philly to pick up where they left off last season, when they won their last 16 games, but the GMs aren't sold. I'm with the GMs; Philly almost certainly needs a consolidation season as they work in Markelle Fultz.
The GMs don't think much of the East's also-rans. Nine teams out of 16 didn't get a vote in favour of them grabbing a playoff berth. The Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers are considered mortal locks, with Milwaukee and Indiana barking at their heels. Washington and Miami are in the mix, barely.
There were only two contenders for Best Off-season Moves by a Team. The Los Angeles Lakers "beat" the Raptors with 70% to our 20%. Of course, that's a statement about them grabbing LeBron James, plus a host of free agents. I think their roster is weird, even with the incomparable King James, and will take a long time to gel.
I liked the respect paid to DeMar DeRozan in the category of Most Underrated Acquisition. He was tied for second in a skewed vote. Jakob Poeltl, who will be excellent in San Antonio, received mentions.
Leonard gets a bunch of votes
Kawhi Leonard was down the ballot for Most Impactful Acquired Player. Obviously, LeBron breathed in most of the oxygen in that room. Our new man also showed up on the Most Likely to Be MVP and Have a Breakout Season ballots. If he enjoys the latter, he'll have a chance at the former.
Since we're talking about Raptors becoming Spurs and vice-versa, I'll mention that the Big Trade (I don't need to specify which one, do I?) was considered the second-most surprising event of the off-season. DeMarcus Cousins joining the Golden State Warriors was first, a result I find baffling. After so many fruitless years in the league, why wouldn't he join the overwhelming championship favourite? His decision made perfect sense to me.
Finally, and I know I'm beating a dead horse, Nando De Colo was named the second-best international player not in the NBA. We had that guy and didn't play him. Now he's a monster - in Moscow.
With forecasts and predictions breeding like rabbits, giving consideration to what the NBA's best minds think is worth your while.