VANCOUVER – NBA.com released its annual survey of the league’s 30 general managers, and the Dallas Mavericks received some pretty good reviews.
For one, when the general managers were asked if they were starting a franchise today, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo would be the first player they would draft. Antetokounmpo received 86 percent of the votes.
Tied for second? The Mavs’ Luka Doncic and Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers each with seven percent of the votes.
“I say nothing to that, just that they’re all great players,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t get into that stuff. But I’ll stand by what I said earlier in the year: I wouldn’t trade Doncic for anybody.
“I just feel that strongly about him as a player now and in the future. We drafted him, so that’s my feeling about it. Those other guys are obviously great. And it’s no knock on them in any way.”
Center/forward Kristaps Porzingis, one of the Mavs’ two cornerstones, believes the general managers absolutely know what they’re talking about.
“It shows how highly they value (Doncic) as a player,” Porzingis said. “What he showed last year, that’s based off of that, so that’s very good.”
Doncic was the runaway winner as the NBA Rookie of the Year last season after averaging 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and six assists. So, him being one of the players general managers would want to start their franchise comes as no surprise to many.
“I think he’s very deserving of that,” forward Justin Jackson said. “He’s obviously one of the best in the league already, and he makes everybody around him better.
“So when it comes to starting a franchise and having a team, that’s everything that you want. And so I’d say he’s definitely well deserving of that for sure.”
The general managers also voted Doncic – with seven percent of the votes — as the NBA’s third-best international player behind Antetokounmpo (79 percent) and Denver’s Nikola Jokic (14 percent).
Additionally in the survey, Carlisle, with 28 percent of the votes, was voted as the coach who makes the best in-game adjustments. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers agreed with that selection.
“I think he’s terrific,” Rivers said. “I’ve always found him hard to play again, or coach against.
“Actually, he was never hard to play against when I was a player. That was very easy. But as far as coaching against, it’s extremely hard. I just think he’s a very bright intelligent guy that knows how to coach.”
Also, with 21 percent of the votes, the Mavs were voted second as the team that will be the most improved this season. The Lakers were first with 38 percent of the votes.
In addition, the Mavs received some votes in the category of which team has the most promising young core. Only three players on the Mavs’ roster – J. J. Barea (35), Courtney Lee (34) and Boban Marjanovic (31) — are over the age of 29.
BARNES OFFERED TO PAY FOR FUNERAL
Harrison Barnes and his wife, Brittany, have stepped in and offered to pay for the funeral of Atatiana Jefferson, who was fatally shot by a Fort Worth policeman last weekend while in her own home.
When he played for the Mavs from 2016 until he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in February, Barnes was very active in the D/FW community, and enjoyed helping the less fortunate with his time and his money.
“It was a great gesture,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m not surprised that he did it. He’s a guy that’s very aware of these kinds of situations and he’s kept a close eye on the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”
Barnes was a fixture at various Boys and Girls Clubs in the D/FW area. On multiple occasions, he paid for kids’ dinner and for them to see a movie screening.
“He was there for the better part of three years, and very well respected in the community there,” Carlisle said. “He did a great job for us on the floor, and this was a really wonderful gesture on his part and Brittney’s part.”
RIVERS SIZES UP CURRY
There was definitely no shame in the game of Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers when he was asked about Mavs guard Seth Curry. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Rivers said: “He’s the best player on their team.”
Curry, by the way, married Rivers’ daughter, Callie, last month.
Once he got serious discussing Curry, Rivers said of his son-in-law: “He’s a great shooter, but he’s more than that. He’s a really good playmaker as well, great passer, great instincts, and probably very underrated defensively. He has great hands.”