Optimism regarding the Timberwolves is spreading around the league.
The NBA’s 2016-07 GM survey was released today. In it, you can find a bunch of Minnesota optimism, including:
--GMs were asked which team will be most improved in the coming season. The Wolves won, easily, getting 56.7 percent of the votes. The Wolves won 29 games last season, and have since added a top five draft pick (Kris Dunn). But, more importantly, the team hired Tom Thibodeau as president of basketball operations and head coach and Scott Layden as general manager.
Not surprisingly, given the talent he inherited, GMs think Thibodeau will have a big impact. And a quick one.
In all, 78.3 percent of GMs voted for Thibodeau when asked which new (or relocated) coach will have the biggest impact this season. Also, Thibodeau was named the coach with the best defensive schemes, finishing with 60 percent of the vote, ahead of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (33.3 percent).
--Karl-Anthony Towns got big-time praise. GMs were asked the following question: “if you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?’’
Towns finished first, at 48.3 percent. Second was Kevin Durant (20.7) and LeBron James was third (17.2).
Towns also came in second – behind Devin Booker of Phoenix -- on the question of which player is most likely to have a breakout season. Booker got 31 percent of the vote, Towns 13.8. Wolves wing Andrew Wiggins tied D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers for fourth on that list.
Towns was also named the fifth best center in the league, behind DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
--Dunn was named, by a landslide, as the player most likely to win rookie of the year. Dunn got 46.7 percent of the vote, well ahead of Buddy Hield and Ben Simmons (13.3 percent each). Were Dunn to win the award, it would give the Wolves three straight ROY awards.
When asked which rookie will be the best player in five years, Dunn finished second to Simmons. Dunn also finished second when GMs were asked which rookie was the biggest steal in the draft.
--Zach was named the league’s third most athletic player, getting 10.3 percent of the vote. He finished behind Russell Westbrook (62.1 percent) and James (17.2).
--Ricky Rubio was named the league’s third-best passer, behind Chris Paul and James.
If you want to take a look at the entire survey, you can see it here: