How execs rank Warriors in West, likelihood to repeat title originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors are less than two weeks away from officially beginning their quest for the second championship repeat in franchise history.
As the season approaches, it's always interesting to get the perspective of Golden State's peers. How big is the target on the backs of the defending champions?
In the annual survey of NBA general managers, the Milwaukee Bucks were the most popular choice to win the 2023 NBA Finals at 43 percent. The Warriors ranked second at 25 percent, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (21 percent) and Boston Celtics (11 percent).
No other team received a championship vote.
As far as playoff seeding goes, Golden State was picked to finish second in the Western Conference behind the Clippers, although both received an equal amount of votes for first place (48 percent apiece). The only other team to receive a first-place vote in the West was the Phoenix Suns, who won eight more regular-season games than any other team last season.
It should come as no surprise, but even league executives don't have a crystal ball. Last season, 80 percent of general managers picked the Los Angeles Lakers to win the West. The Lakers failed to make the play-in tournament.
Eighty-three percent of executives picked the Brooklyn Nets to win the East last year, but Kevin Durant and company didn't win a single playoff game and were swept out of the postseason by the Celtics.
But in terms of this upcoming season, as long as the Bucks and Warriors stay healthy, it's not hard to imagine a star-studded matchup between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry in the 2023 NBA Finals. The respect between the two beloved superstars is evident.
"Do I believe I'm the best player in the world? No," Antetokounmpo said at Bucks Media Day on Sept. 25. "I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last one standing. The person that takes his team to the Finals, to the finish line, and helps them win games and become champion.
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"I believe the best player in the world is Steph Curry."
Curry wasn't voted the frontrunner to win MVP -- that was Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić, at 48 percent -- but he was voted the league's most clutch player, best point guard, best pure shooter, best player at moving without the ball and the player that forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments.
But for Curry, you can bet it's all about the championships.