NBA GMs vote Celtics, Nuggets as co-favorites to win title

ByTim Bontemps ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The defending champion Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics were installed as the co-favorites to win this year's NBA title, according to's annual survey of all 30 of the league's general managers.

The Nuggets and Celtics each picked up 10 of the 30 votes to win the title, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks getting seven, the Phoenix Suns getting two and the LA Clippers picking up the lone remaining vote. Last year, the Bucks led the way in that category with 43% of the vote.

Not surprisingly, the Nuggets and Celtics were also picked to win their respective conferences. Behind Denver out West was Phoenix in second, the Los Angeles Lakers in third, the Golden State Warriors in fourth, the Clippers in fifth and the Memphis Grizzlies in sixth, while Boston was followed by Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York and Miami, respectively.

Nikola Jokic was picked as the player most likely to win the NBA's MVP award -- as he was in's annual offseason survey last month -- as well as the player GMs would pick to start a franchise with. Anthony Edwards, meanwhile, edged out Cade Cunningham as this season's top candidate to have a breakout season, while Victor Wembanyama was picked to both win Rookie of the Year and be the best rookie five years from now.

In player rankings by position, Stephen Curry was picked as the best point guard in the league, along with Devin Booker at shooting guard, Jayson Tatum at small forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward, and Jokic at center. Among those five players, only Tatum surpassing Kevin Durant was a change from last year. Similarly, Erik Spoelstra was again named the NBA's best coach. Spoelstra was named the best at motivating, at making adjustments and at defensive schemes, while Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown was credited with running the league's best offense.

Ime Udoka, who was hired by the Houston Rockets this offseason, was named the coach who will have the biggest impact on his new team, and Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez -- who led Team Canada to the bronze medal at last month's FIBA World Cup -- was named the league's top assistant coach.

The Celtics and Bucks tied for the best offseasons in the league this year, with Damian Lillard's acquisition by Milwaukee being touted as both the most surprising move of the summer and the one that will have the biggest impact. Memphis getting Marcus Smart, on the other hand, was tapped as the most underrated move of the summer. The Oklahoma City Thunder were picked to be this season's most improved team and the team with the league's best young core.

Denver placed first in being the most fun team to watch, having the best home-court advantage and having the league's most efficient offense this season, while Philadelphia -- amid the James Harden drama -- was tapped as the team for which it's hardest to predict how this season will shake out.

Among individual accolades:Ja Morant was named the league's most athletic player; Curry as its best shooter, best at moving without the ball and the one you'd want to take a shot with the game on the line; De'Aaron Foxas its fastest player with the ball; Jokic as its best passer and the player with the highest basketball IQ; Antetokounmpo as its most versatile player; and LeBron James as its best leader.

Among rule changes made this season, the new player participation policy governing resting of players edged out the new luxury tax rules in the incoming collective bargaining agreement as the one requiring the biggest adjustment for teams this season, followed by the inaugural in-season tournament.

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