The general managers have spoken.
Will the Lakers win the 2013 NBA Finals? According to 70% of the general managers who responded, the answer was a resounding "no" (they picked the Miami Heat). The Lakers did come in second, with 23.3%.
The majority (60%) agreed that the Lakers would return to the NBA Finals after a two-year absence. The Oklahoma City Thunder received 36.7% of the vote.
Are the Clippers ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific Division? An overwhelming majority (96.7%) said no, but 6.7% selected the Clippers as "most fun to watch," while the Lakers were simply listed as "receiving votes." The Thunder were selected as most fun with 30%.
Kobe Bryant didn't receive any predictive votes for 2012-13 MVP, but he was easily selected the best shooting guard in the league, with 66.7% of the vote (Dwyane Wade getting the remainder). Bryant was also listed among the best perimeter defenders.
Howard was also in the same spot behind James and Durant at 16.7% as the player who "forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments." He was selected by 60% as the best defender in the league and 66.7% as the "best interior defender."
Only 6.7% of general managers expect the Lakers to be the best defensive team in the league, with that honor going to the Chicago Bulls (40%).
Other executives clearly agreed, which is why 86.2% selected the Lakers as the team who "made the best overall moves this off-season."
"Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact?
The bulk of the votes went to Howard (70%) and Steve Nash (20%). Nash oddly was also listed as a selection to the "most underrated player acquisition list."
The Lakers came in second as "most improved" with 10.3% of the vote, behind the Brooklyn Nets (62.1%).
Kupchak clearly caught his fellow executives off-guard this summer, specifically with the acquisition of Nash (39.3% said most surprising move) and Howard (17.9%).
Pau Gasol received marginal votes for best power forward. Kevin Love won the category with 30%. Gasol came in second behind Dirk Nowitzki (72.4%) for best international player, with Gasol getting 10.3%.
Coach Mike Brown was listed as receiving votes for "best in-game adjustments" and was selected as the coach with the third-best defensive schemes (6.7%).
If Nash ever wants to get into coaching, 10.3% of the executives believe he'd be a good one (tied with Jason Kidd for fourth). Former Lakers Derek Fisher (13.8%) and Luke Walton (less than 6.9%) also received votes.
The Lakers were an also-ran with "best home-court advantage." Nash was listed as the top passer (58.6%) and was on the "best pure-shooter" list. Bryant was best at "getting his own shot" at 40%. Howard tied for third with DeMarcus Cousins as best offensive rebounder (6.7%).
Other notables include Bryant as toughest player in the league (26.7%) followed by teammate Metta World Pace (10%).
Nash tied with multiple players for third as best leader (10.3%), but, in a back-handed compliment, the veteran was listed as a player who "makes the most of limited natural ability."
The Lakers had three players listed with the "best basketball IQ," with Nash topping the list with 27.6%, Bryant fifth (10.3%) and Gasol listed as receiving votes.
Finally, Bryant was beat out by Durant as the player executives want taking the shot with the game on the line. Durant came in at 46.7%, dropping Bryant to 40%. Last season that was Bryant's category, with 48.1% of the vote.