A lot has changed in the NBA in the last year.
The addition of former University of Kentucky stars Karl-Anthony Towns — who won the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Award — and Devin Booker — who far exceeded expectations for his first year in the league — has significantly altered how NBA GMs see the future of the league.
Meanwhile, yet another injury for fellow former Wildcat Anthony Davis — this time an ankle sprain — has likely contributed to a drop in his stock.
The NBA released its annual survey of the league’s general managers on Tuesday, and perhaps most notably it was Towns who came out on top when they were asked which player they would start a franchise with.
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The Minnesota Timberwolves star earned 48.3 percent of the vote, followed by Golden State’s Kevin Durant (20.7) and Cleveland’s LeBron James (17.2).
Among those also receiving votes was Davis, who was the GMs’ pick last season in a landslide with 86.2 percent.
Booker came out on top when GMs were asked which player would have a breakout season in 2016-17. He garnered 31 percent of the GMs support, while Towns was second with 13.8. Davis also received votes in that category.
Davis is still considered the game’s best power forward, but by a much smaller margin. He edged James 29 percent to 19.4 after having 82.1 percent of the vote last year.
Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins was the second choice at center, losing out to the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan 33.3 percent to 26.7. Davis was third at 16.7 percent while last year’s winner, Memphis’ Marc Gasol was fourth (13.3) and Towns was fifth (6.7).
Ex-Cats were shut out in the voting at poing guard (Golden State’s Stephen Curry, 63.3 percent), shooting guard (Houston’s James Harden, 79.3 percent) and small forward (James, 76.8 percent).
Also of note
▪ James was the pick for MVP at 46.7 percent, followed by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (23.3).
▪ The league’s GMs predicted that Towns’ Timberwolves will be the most improved team this season. Minnesota (56.7 percent) finished ahead of Trey Lyles’ Utah Jazz squad (23.3).
▪ Denver’s Jamal Murray was among those also receiving votes in GMs’ prediction for Rookie of the Year. Minnesota’s Kris Dunn was first with 46.7 percent, and New Orleans’ Buddy Hield and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons both got 13.3 percent.
▪ Sacramento’s Skal Labissiere tied for fifth at 6.7 percent when GMs were asked which rookie was the biggest steal when considering where they were drafted. San Antonio’s Dejuonte Murray, the 29th selection, received 23.3 percent of the vote. Labissiere was the 28th overall pick.
▪ Davis, who many consider to be one of the league’s best defenders, didn’t garner a mention for best defensive player (won by San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard) or best interior defender (Jordan).
▪ John Wall, who was the GMs’ pick last year for which player is fastest with the ball, finished second this time around to Westbrook (46.7-40.0 percent).
▪ GMs consider the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul to be the game’s best passer. Chicago’s Rajon Rondo was among those receiving votes in that category.