NBA.com’s annual preseason general manager survey gives an overview of how perceptions change in the National Basketball Association.
For the Phoenix Suns coming off a run to the NBA Finals, those perceptions have certainly moved from a season ago.
Last year, the expectation was that Phoenix’s acquisition of Chris Paul would help slide them into playoff contention. The Suns surpassed those expectations, and now 81% of those polled in this year’s GM survey consider Phoenix to be a top-four playoff seed in the Western Conference.
However, Phoenix was not picked by anyone to win the NBA Finals. The Brooklyn Nets (72%), Los Angeles Lakers (17%) and Milwaukee Bucks (10%) were the only teams to clear that bar.
But respect was dolled out in gobs for Suns coach Monty Williams.
He came in second (17%) when GMs were asked who was the best coach in the NBA, behind Miami’s Erik Spoelstra (55%). Williams additionally got 50% of the votes, the most, when executives were asked which head coach was the best manager/motivator of people.
Semi-related to the coaching questions, Suns point guard Chris Paul was first in votes for best leader (43%) and also as the player who will some day make the best head coach (34%). He was second in best basketball IQ (30%), third in best passer (10%) and tied for fourth in best point guard (7%).
Backcourt mate Devin Booker earned 17% of the votes for best shooting guard, coming in behind only the Nets’ James Harden (63%).
Suns center Deandre Ayton received at least a vote for most likely player to have a breakout season, while fellow fourth-year man Mikal Bridges got recognition alongside Booker in receiving a nod for best player moving without the ball.