2021 NBA GM Survey Vs. NBA Futures: Surprise Answers, Dark Horses

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on October 19, 2021

The 2021 NBA GM survey has hit the wire at NBA.com. As usual, it presents a fascinating snapshot of how the top decision-makers view the current league landscape.

Here at TheLines, we look at everything from the perspective of the bettor. We decided to compare the opinions of the NBA GMs to what the betting market says on a few league topics. Where do they differ from market consensus? Should their opinions affect the way we view some of these markets?

Let’s take a look.

NBA GM Survey Aligned With Chalk On Major Team Futures

The Brooklyn Nets have established themselves as clear favorites for the 2022 NBA title according to most prognosticators and the futures markets. That’s little surprise after an incredibly dominant playoff stretch ended in injury-induced disappointment.

A potential fly in the ointment has emerged with Kyrie Irving unwilling to get vaccinated. Due to local mandates, he could miss more than half of the season if he doesn’t comply. Still, oddsmakers remain unconcerned as of now.

The GMs completely agree with the market, with 72% tabbing the Nets as eventual champs. They also have the Lakers and Bucks as the next-most likely champs. The market has aligned there, after some initially released odds had the Warriors ahead of the Bucks. The potentially resurgent Dubs — with Klay Thompson back in the fold — have fallen a bit behind in the markets with a best price of .

Odds to win 2022 NBA Championship

A similar story emerges examining the Eastern Conference, except the GMs do differ in one aspect. While they agreed with the market on the top four teams — Nets, Bucks, HeatSixers — the market prefers the Sixers to the Heat. The GMs flip the other way.

Odds to win 2022 Eastern Conference

The Western Conference features a more wide open group of teams. GMs agree that the Lakers are the favorite, but beyond that, they vehemently disagree on two teams: the Warriors and the Clippers. The betting market remains much more bullish on these teams, while the GMs see them below the second tier of contenders.

Odds to win 2022 Western Confernce

NBA GM Survey Slightly Disagrees On Player Awards

Most Valuable Player

Many bettors like firing futures on player awards like MVP and Rookie of the Year.

When it comes to MVP, the GMs have a clear disagreement with the betting market. They favor playoff supernova star Kevin Durant. However, the markets have Luka Doncic as the clear top dog. Durant reached another level last season as he nearly single-handedly eliminated the eventual champion Bucks, and that looks to have lingered in the minds of the GMs.

The GMs also like James Harden’s chances, while the market much prefers Stephen Curry.

Odds to win 2022 NBA MVP

Luka Doncic
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+380
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+480
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+400
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+400
Kevin Durant
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+600
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+800
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+700
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+700
Giannis Antetokounmpo
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+900
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+700
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+800
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+700
Joel Embiid
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+700
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+800
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+700
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+750
Stephen Curry
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+900
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+800
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+900
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+800
James Harden
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+2000
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+2300
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+2500
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+2200

Rookie of the Year

The GMs like Houston’s Jalen Green slightly more than Detroit’s Cade Cunningham for Rookie of the Year. The market goes the other direction, tabbing Cunningham as the slight favorite. Cunningham figures to have a larger share of the offense, with Kevin Porter likely handling the ball a bunch for Houston.

However, the GMs did nail this the year before when they correctly predicted LaMelo Ball would win out over Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, both of whom were drafted ahead of him.

Jalen Suggs of Orlando was the only other player to receive votes, and he’s indeed third in the markets.

Odds to win 2022 NBA ROTY

Cade Cunningham
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+250
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+250
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+250
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+240
Jalen Green
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+275
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+270
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+300
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+260
Jalen Suggs
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+700
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+650
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+750
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+650

The question of “Who is the best defensive player?” isn’t exactly analogous to the Defensive Player of the Year. After all, big men have had a clear edge on this award historically, due to the outsized impact that have on team defense.

Still, it’s worth seeing who the GMs like as the top defender. He actually has fairly long odds compared with three-time winner and market favorite Rudy Gobert. The GMs tabbed Giannis Antetokounmpo as the biggest defensive menace in the league.

Odds to win 2022 NBA DPOY

Rudy Gobert
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+340
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+380
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+350
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+320
Ben Simmons
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+350
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+500
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+350
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+450
Anthony Davis
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+700
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+500
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+1000
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+800
Giannis Antetokounmpo
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+1000
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+800
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+1000
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+800

Again, this question isn’t a perfect port, but the GMs like Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Grizzlies to make a leap this season. Could that result in a Most Improved Player award?

The market likes Jackson Jr. as well but has higher expectations for a few other players, namely Michael Porter Jr.Kevin Porter Jr., and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

One interesting name to monitor: Zion Williamson. The 2021 NBA GM Survey did not name him among players expected to break out, but the leap from star to championship-leading superstar might be bigger than decent to great. If the Pelicans jump into contention, he’ll be a hot name here.

The GMs, on the other hand, like Anthony Edwards way, way more than the market.

Odds to win 2022 NBA Most Improved Player

Michael Porter Jr.
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+900
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+1000
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+750
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+800
Kevin Porter Jr.
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+1000
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+1200
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+900
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+1200
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
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+1500
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+2400
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+700
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+1400
Jaren Jackson Jr.
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+1500
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+2400
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+1600
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+1600
Zion Williamson
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+1800
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+2600
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+700
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+1400
Anthony Edwards
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+3000
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+4600
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+4000
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+3000

Other Betting Tidbits From The 2021 NBA GM Survey

Top Dark Horse: Miami Heat

Could a team from outside the established top tier of powers enter contention? If one does, the GMs overwhelmingly pointed to one team: the Miami Heat. They voted the Heat as having made the best offseason moves and the best individual move in signing Kyle Lowry.

Here’s a look at some Miami markets you can get a piece of if you agree:

Keep in mind the GMs tabbed the Lakers as having made the best moves last offseason. They bricked that one big time.

Top Breakout Team: Chicago Bulls

According to the 2021 NBA GM Survey, look for the Chicago Bulls to make a leap. The Bulls fired away in a busy offseason, bringing in Lonzo Ball and DeMar Derozan. They also traded for Nikola Vucevic last season. Best market prices on the Bulls:

Opinions of Coaches in 2021 NBA GM Survey

Coaching is an area that even the sharpest modelers have difficulty quantifying. The GMs had some clear opinions here that bettors may be able to use.

For example, they overwhelmingly tabbed Rick Carlisle as the coach most likely to make an impact on his new team in Indiana. While the Pacers lack the top-end talent needed to compete for titles, Carlisle does legendary work plugging in veterans to run an efficient offense. They might be a good look to go over their win total of .

The 2021 NBA GM Survey also revealed GMs liked the in-game adjustments of Carlisle and Tyronn Lue of the Clippers. These teams might present value on in-game lines, especially if they find themselves behind at halftime.

Best NBA Home Court Advantage

Finally, many teams dread hitting the road to play the Nuggets. However, the GMs surprisingly favored Utah by quite a bit as having the best home court advantage. That adds up over the course of the season — Utah has a win total of — and is something to consider when making your day-to-day handicapping.

Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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