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Taking An Early Look At Top NBA Executives

Throw preseason predictions and early hype out the window. Here’s a look at the NBA’s Executive of the Year race.

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Throw all of the preseason predictions and early hype out of the window. The true winners of last summer and into the fall are starting to emerge as we approach the season’s midway point.

With recent team success as the baseline, let’s take a look at some of the early frontrunners for Executive of the Year award at season’s end (in no particular order)

Ryan McDonough, General Manager, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns (22-16) currently have a better win percentage than every team in the Eastern Conference, excluding the Miami HEAT and the Indiana Pacers. But in the Western Conference, where they reside, the team is seventh in the standings.

However, the Suns are far exceeding the expectations set for the franchise in the preseason.

General manager Ryan McDonough has been a driving force behind the team’s surprising success. While McDonough’s moves haven’t been flashy, the transactions have paid immediate dividends while also providing the team with flexibility down the road. One of McDonough’s strongest moves may have been not making a move at all, electing not to deal point guard Goran Dragic upon the arrival of Eric Bledsoe.

Notable transactions since the end of last season

  • Hired Jeff Hornacek as head coach
  • Dealt a second-round draft pick and forward Jared Dudley in a three-team deal that netted Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler (later traded)
  • Traded Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers and received forwards Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a future first-round pick
  • Traded Malcolm Lee, Kendall Marshall and Shannon Brown to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Emeka Okafor and a 2014 protected first round pick

»In Related: Phoenix Suns Salary Cap Information

 

Daryl Morey, General Manager, Houston Rockets

You can question whether the Houston Rockets are a true title contender, but you cannot question whether the team is in better shape than it was a few years ago. Without question, the Rockets are on the rise and Morey should receive credit for his ability to stockpile previous rosters with talented (albeit ill-fitting) pieces in order to be a player in the trade markets.

Trading for shooting guard James Harden before the start of last season was the start, but luring center Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers this past summer in free agency was a defining moment for Morey and his contention plan.

Notable transactions since the end of last season

  • Signed Dwight Howard (free agency)

»In Related: Houston Rockets Salary Cap Information

 

Neil Olshey, General Manager, Portland Trail Blazers

Surprisingly, the Portland Trail Blazers (29-9) have the second best record in the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs. While the play of forward LaMarcus Aldridge is a driving force of the team’s position, Olshey’s direction shouldn’t be dismissed.

Aldridge reportedly entered the season with a trade demand and while both parties have downplayed this past summer’s rumor, the fact the forward has recently spoke on wanting to retire in Portland is testament to Olshey’s running of the franchise.

Notable transactions since the end of last season

  • Drafted guard C.J. McCollum with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2013 draft
  • Signed veteran point guard Mo Williams (free agency)
  • Signed veteran forward Dorell Wright (free agency)
  • Traded draft rights of center Jeff Withey to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for center Robin Lopez

»In Related: Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap Information

 

Bob Myers, General Manager, Golden State Warriors

Come playoff time, the Golden State Warriors are going to be one of the league’s toughest outs. The team has elite shooters, an ever improving defensive product, strong leadership on the sidelines and a rabid fan base.

There were questions about the team’s moves this summer, mainly letting locker room leaders Jarret Jack and Carl Landry depart via free agency, but after a tough start to the season the Warriors have been playing some of the best basketball in the league as of late.

Notable transactions since the end of last season

  • Acquired former All-Star forward Andre Iguodala via sign-and-trade
  • Signed forward Marreese Speights (free agency)
  • Signed center Andrew Bogut to a three-year contract extension
  • Acquired guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks in exchange for guard Toney Douglas

»In Related: Golden State Warriors Salary Cap Information

 

Larry Bird, President of Basketball Operations, Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers came into the season with the goal of dethroning the Miami HEAT for Eastern Conference supremacy and reaching the NBA Finals. So far the club is leading Miami in the standings, but the true test will come in the playoffs.

Bird took an already strong team and strengthened the reserve unit last summer, which had been the squad’s undoing in the postseason the past two campaigns. The moves aren’t the most flashy on paper, but with a future perennial MVP candidate in Paul George on the roster, sometimes it’s the subtle transactions that push a team over the proverbial hump.

Notable transactions since the end of last season

  • Re-signed forward David West (free agency)
  • Signed guard C.J. Watson (free agency)
  • Signed forward Chris Copeland (free agency)
  • Acquired forward Luis Scola from Phoenix in exchange for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a future first round pick
  • Signed Paul George to a contract extension (maximum)

»In Related: Indiana Pacers Salary Cap Information

Do you feel there are any other candidates for Executive of the Year? Let us know in the comments section. 

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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