The Celtics will begin this season as the envy of the league.
One-third of the NBA’s general managers picked Boston to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy this season in the league’s annual GM survey, which was released Tuesday. Boston tied the Denver Nuggets for first place.
Over half of the GMs (54 percent) ranked the Celtics as the best team in the Eastern Conference, and 43 percent had them in second. The only other team that had nearly as many votes in the top two spots was the Bucks, who recently acquired superstar Damian Lillard.
Lillard was voted as the recent acquisition most likely to make an impact on his new team by a massive margin (47 percent). Jrue Holiday came in second place (13 percent) and Kristaps Porzingis in fourth (7 percent).
Both Porzingis and Holiday received votes for most underrated trade acquisition, a category won by Marcus Smart, who was traded to Memphis in the deal that sent Porzingis to Boston (17 percent). The Celtics moving on from Smart, their longest-tenured player, was voted as the second-most surprising move of the offseason (20 percent).
Those moves led GMs to vote Boston and Milwaukee as the the two teams that made the best overall moves this offseason (23 percent).
Holiday was well-represented in this survey. The newest Celtic was voted as the best perimeter defender in the league (50 percent), as well as the second-best defender overall (13 percent). He also received votes for the best leader in the NBA, which could be why he was named the fifth-best potential head coach among all active NBA players (7 percent).
Jayson Tatum was the Celtic who received the highest praise in this survey. He was voted the league’s best small forward (47 percent) ahead Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and he received the third-most votes for player most likely to win MVP (13 percent).
Boston’s coaching staff was recognized as well. Sam Cassell and Charles Lee tied for fourth in the vote for best assistant coach. They will assist head coach Joe Mazzulla — whose defensive schemes received votes as some of the best in basketball — and help him manage what GMs believe will be the fourth-most efficient offense in the league.