Can the Miami Heat repeat as NBA champions in 2012-13? NBA executives certainly think so. The NBA released the results of its annual general manager poll, and 70% of GMs think LeBron James and the Heat will win it all this season.
96.7% of GMs think the Heat will win the Eastern Conference and appear in their third straight NBA Finals. That number would have been higher, but GMs are not permitted to vote for their own team, so Heat president Pat Riley could not pick Miami and make it unanimous.
There is little reason to think Miami cannot win the East barring injury. Chicago will be without PG Derrick Rose, recovering from an ACL injury. The Boston Celtics, who took the Heat to 7 games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, are a year older and without sharpshooter Ray Allen, who signed with the Heat this summer.
23% of GMs think the Los Angeles Lakers can take the Heat in the Finals, while the remaining 7% picked the Oklahoma City Thunder to win it all. The Thunder fell to the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, but have one of the best cores in the league with reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant flanked by Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
The Lakers revamped their starting lineup this summer, adding C Dwight Howard and PG Steve Nash. But Nash is pushing 40, while Howard is coming off a back injury.
LeBron James is also the favorite to win the league MVP, which would be his fourth. 67% of GMs picked James, with 30% picking Durant and 3% picking Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.
James was also the most popular answer to the question "If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?" LeBron got 80% of the vote, with Durant a distant second at 17% (Howard got 3%). James was also tabbed the best small forward in the league ahead of Durant.
Dwyane Wade was a popular choice for best shooting guard, but the Lakers' Kobe Bryant won that category by a margin of 67% to 23%. No one picked Chris Bosh as the best center in the league, proving once again that he is the least respected member of Miami's Big Three. We're sure his pretty championship ring will ease the pain of losing that popularity contest to Dwight Howard.
Ray Allen got two kudos of his own. GMs named him the best pure shooter in the game, as well as the best at "moving without the ball." James was also named "most athletic," "the best finisher," and "the most dangerous in the open floor."
The Heat open the 2012-13 season on October 30 against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Arena.