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Towns, Timberwolves Receive High Praise From NBA GMs

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The rise of Karl-Anthony Towns and the acquisition of Jimmy Butler highlight the Timberwolves’ appearances in the 2017-18 NBA GM survey.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA released its annual GM survey today. The general managers of all 30 teams voted on various topics and expectations for the 2017-18 season.

Throughout the survey, it’s clear that the high expectations placed on the Minnesota Timberwolves are not just from fans or media outlets. NBA front offices feel the same way.

Karl-Anthony Towns is a big part of those high expectations. NBA GMs voted him as the best player to start a franchise with out of every player in the league. Towns received 29 percent of the vote, beating out Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 percent), LeBron James (18 percent) and Kawhi Leonard (14 percent).

Towns also received the most votes as the most likely player to have a breakout season in 2017-18, receiving 21 percent of the vote. Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner (14 percent) were the next highest. Andrew Wiggins (7 percent) was fifth on the list.

The best part about this vote is that one could argue Towns’ breakout season was last season. He finished the season averaging over 25 points and 12 rebounds per game on over 54 percent shooting, jumping from 18 points, 12 rebounds and 54 percent his rookie season. Slight improvement can be expected, sure, but what kind of statistics would earn the label of “breakout season” if last season isn’t it?

KAT was also dubbed as the NBA’s best center, receiving 28 percent of the vote. Anthony Davis, who was voted the best power forward in the league, finished second in the center vote at 24 percent. Marc Gasol (21 percent) and DeMarcus Cousins (14 percent) trailed behind. Lots of Kentucky Wildcats on this list. Towns also received 7 percent of the vote for best power forward, which points to the fluidity that many see between the two big-men positions in the NBA.

Aside from Towns’ superstar development, the Timberwolves also received high praise in several team-oriented categories. Minnesota was third in the vote for best offseason moves at 14 percent, trailing Oklahoma City (43 percent) and Boston (25 percent). Additionally, the acquisition of Jimmy Butler was voted the second-most impactful acquisition this offseason getting 17 percent of the votes, behind Paul George joining the Thunder (59 percent). Front offices really love Paul George based on the results of these two categories.

Despite the acquisitions made by Oklahoma City, the Wolves are widely regarded by GMs as the team that will be most improved in 2017-18. Minnesota received 69 percent of the vote, with Philadelphia in second at 17 percent. Minnesota also dominated this vote a year ago, receiving 57 percent of the vote.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau is still viewed as one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA, although his team’s performance last year may not show it. He received 34 percent of the votes for best defensive schemes, second to only Gregg Popovich (41 percent). After acquiring an array of veterans and former Bulls, Thibs’ defensive schemes should be executed better this season. Right?

Minnesota also made two appearances in the miscellaneous section of the survey. Jamal Crawford finished third in the vote for most impactful bench player and Andrew Wiggins received votes as the most athletic player in the NBA.

The high expectations for the Timberwolves haven’t been much of a secret, especially since Jimmy Butler was acquired. But the GM survey always sheds an extra light and provides perspective on what front offices believe. And the conclusion seems to be that the Wolves are for real, and that Karl-Anthony Towns is for real.

Did any of the survey results surprise you? Do you agree with most of the results? Let us know in the comments.

Other Notes

  • Golden State was overwhelmingly voted as the NBA Finals favorite, receiving 93 percent of the vote (the Warriors received 69 percent of this vote a year ago). Cleveland received the remaining 7 percent.
  • NBA GMs like to Wolves to finish fifth in the Western Conference, behind Golden State, Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
  • LeBron James is the favorite to win the MVP award, receiving 50 percent of the vote. Kevin Durant received the second-most votes at 29 percent.