by Lang Whitaker

Once again, NBA.com has released their annual GM survey, in which NBA GM’s (or their assistants or secretaries or someone) votes for a bunch of things, and then these votes are tabulated by the David Stern Robot and posted on NBA.com.

ASIDE: I was thinking about NBA CM’s last night (yeah, I do that sometimes), and was realizing how many GMs are like CEOs these days: they wear expensive suits, try to manage the fans through public relations campaigns, etc. Why can’t there be at least one GM that wears his team’s jersey to games, who writes a daily blog which makes his doings completely transparent, who hosts a call-in radio show, etc. I know a lot of what GMs do is paperwork — filing contracts, dealing with the owners, talking to agents. So why doesn’t a team hire a fan as GM, then surround him with people who are experienced but not in line for a GM gig?

Anyway, back to the GM survey. What’s interesting is if you look back at last season’s GM preview, where some of the answers look pretty good in hindsight. For instance, the team that made the best offseason moves? The Miami Heat. Most underrated acquisition? Raja Bell. They’re not always right — Golden State as most improved? — but they do seem to have a clue as to what they’re talking about.

This year’s GM survey is posted here, and while many of the answers are expected, there are also some curious choices among the “Others Receiving Votes” section. It makes you wonder if teams were allowed to vote for themselves. For instance…

WHICH TEAM WILL WIN NBA FINALS 2007?
San Antonio — 43%
Dallas Mavericks — 29%
Miami Heat — 14%
Others receiving votes: Minnesota, Phoenix, Orlando

I’m mildly surprised the Spurs won this — their biggest offseason acquisition was Jackie Manuel — but I’m shocked that the Magic and the T-Wolves got votes. Seriously, the T-Wolves?

Which team will win the Northwest Division?
Denver Nuggets — 71%
Utah Jazz — 18%
Minnesota Timberwolves — 7%
Seattle SuperSonics — 4%

OK, who voted for Seattle? Is this why Wally Walker is out?

If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?
LeBron James — 71%
Dwyane Wade — 11%
Others receiving votes: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard

Interesting that Duncan got at least one vote, as he’s the oldest guy on this list. Also interesting that LeBron ran away with the votes and the Cavs didn’t even get one vote as a contender to win the Eastern Conference.

Which rookie is most likely to be a “sleeper” success?
Rajon Rondo — 25%
Thabo Sefolosha — 14%
Randy Foye — 11%
Others receiving votes: Maurice Ager, Hilton Armstrong, Ronnie Brewer, Rodney Carney, Yakhouba Diawara, Jordan Farmar, Jorge Garbajosa, Rudy Gay, Steve Novak, Brandon Roy, Mouhamed Sene, Craig Smith

In other words, anybody.

Which international player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2006-07?
Darko Milicic — 29%
Nenad Krstic — 18%
Jorge Garbajosa — 7%

Looks like they used some “international” math there. I might be wrong, but don’t those votes equal 54%? The exchange rate sucks.

Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
Steve Nash — 23%
Eric Snow — 19%
Shane Battier — 12%
Others receiving votes: Darrell Armstrong, Bruce Bowen, P.J. Brown, Kobe Bryant, Kirk Hinrich, Lindsey Hunter, Anthony Johnson, Jason Kidd, Brevin Knight, Chris Paul, Jacque Vaughn

I agree that, in theory, Steve Nash would probably make a great coach. But I can almost guarantee you that once he’s done playing, the last thing Steve Nash is going to want to do is deal with being a head coach.

Which player is the fastest with the ball?
Allen Iverson — 22%
Tony Parker — 15%
Leandro Barbosa — 11%
T.J. Ford — 11%
Steve Nash — 11%
Chris Paul — 11%
Others receiving votes: Gilbert Arenas, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd

What I liked about this is what Chris Paul told me this summer: “I’m not as fast as a lot of the guards in the League. I just try to do a great job of changing pace, going from fast to slowing down to speeding back up again. I feel like that’s when I’m most effective. I know I’m not as fast as a guy like TJ Ford, Tony Parker, those guys. Them guys are unbelievably fast. What I try to do is just keep guys off-balance, have them not knowing what I do next.”

Which player does the most with least?
Steve Nash — 15%
Ben Wallace — 15%
Bruce Bowen — 8%
Brad Miller — 8%
Andres Nocioni — 8%
Others receiving votes: Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups, Earl Boykins, Brian Cardinal, Sam Cassell, Adrian Griffin, Udonis Haslem, Kirk Hinrich, Eduardo Najera, Jameer Nelson, Bo Outlaw, Tayshaun Prince, Darius Songalia

Tough call here, because does Ben Wallace really have “the least”? He can’t shoot, but he’s maybe the strongest guy in the League.