Minnesota, 2007 NBA Champs?!
You know how every year at the all-star game, we talk about the players who were snubbed, how the fans often get it wrong when they elect the starters for popularity over actual production.
We cry about how Yao Ming beat out Shaquille O'Neal (back when he played in Los Angeles) because he had a billion people voting for him in China; that Steve Francis (back when he played at Houston) only was voted as a starter in the Western Conference because he played alongside Yao; or that Jermaine O'Neal had no business being on the all-star team last season when he didn't even play in the first half of the season. The fans don't get it. Let the players decide. They know best.
Well, the general managers are often the people that I trust to get things right when they are polled, but I've discovered that sometimes they can even be more off base than the fans. Case in point: NBA.com conducted a preseason poll of 28 of the 30 NBA general managers and they determined that the San Antonio Spurs would win the NBA title and that LeBron James would win his first MVP. They picked the defending champion Miami Heat to win the Southeast Division and the Eastern Conference, the Dallas Mavericks to win the Southwest Division, the New Jersey Nets to win the Atlantic Division, the Detroit Pistons to win the Central Division, the Denver Nuggets to win the Northwest Division and the Phoenix Suns to win the Pacific. Nothing really surprising there.
Then, I checked out the poll results for the teams with a chance to win the NBA. Here's the top three:
San Antonio 43 percent
Dallas Mavericks 29 percent
Miami Heat 14 percent
But check this out.
Others receiving votes: Minnesota, Phoenix, Orlando
I recently got an e-mail from an oddsmaker who listed Minnesota with an 87-to-1 chance of winning the NBA title - the same as the Atlanta Hawks, but not nearly as bad as Orlando (150-to-1) the Knicks (300-to-1) or the Portland Trailblazers and Charlotte Bobcats (500-to-1) Now, I actually think Orlando has a shot at making the playoffs and having a breakout season, but the only person I've heard mention a championship down there is the Magic's exuberant center Dwight Howard.
Now there is a reason that I sit here in my position as an NBA writer and those general managers are where they are as talent evaluators. I don't try to claim that I have more knowledge than these men - because I really don't - but I couldn't resist this. Minnesota? C'mon. Minnesota! Are you kidding me? The same Minnesota that has missed the playoffs the last two years and has won just two playoff series in the last nine years? That Minnesota. Did they clone Kevin Garnett? Did they secretly acquire Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant while I was asleep? Last I checked, their major offseason acquisition was Mike James. Mike James puts them over the top?
I have no idea who placed the vote - or votes - but give me a break. Even if this is just Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale's attempt to motivate his team, this is downright silly. Shouldn't Minnesota be trying to make the playoffs? That's a steep enough task for them. Let me leave the Timberwolves alone. Here are the rest of the results:
Â· Miami Heat's Pat Riley - best head coach in the NBA (44 percent)
Â· Portland Trail Blazers' Brandon Roy - winning the Rookie of the Year
Award (44 percent)
Â· Chicago Bulls' Ben Wallace - player acquisition that will make the
biggest impact this season (78 percent) and best defensive player (32
Â· San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan - best power forward in the NBA (57 percent)
Â· Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James - best small forward in the NBA (79 percent)
Â· Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal - best center in the NBA (75 percent)
Â· Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant - best shooting guard in the NBA (71 percent)
Â· Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash - best point guard in the NBA (96 percent)
Â· Seattle SuperSonics' Ray Allen - best pure shooter in the NBA (74
Â· Detroit Pistons' Richard Hamilton - best moving without the ball (63
Â· Houston Rockets' Shane Battier - most underrated player acquisition
Â· Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson - fastest player with the ball (22
Â· Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard - most likely to have breakout season
Â· Phoenix Suns - most fun team to watch (74 percent)
Â· Sacramento Kings - best home-court advantage (37 percent)
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