Miami Heat earn more recognition in NBA’s GM survey than last year, but not by much

MIAMI — The Heat earned some respect around the league after their 30-11 finish last season. But not as much as you would think.

The results of the NBA’s preseason annual survey of general managers was released Wednesday and the Heat received votes as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. That’s an improvement from last season when Miami did not receive a single vote in this category.

The Heat received eight percent of the vote as the fourth-best team in the East. Cleveland (38%), Boston (29%), Washington (18%), Toronto (11%) and Milwaukee (2%) all received a higher percentage of the vote to be a top four team in the East than the Heat, and Charlotte finished tied with Miami with one percent of the vote.

Miami Heat guard Rodney McGruder shows his support to his teammates during the second quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

The general managers responded to 47 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel.

The Heat had a player or coach receive at least one vote from an opposing general manager eight times. Here’s a rundown …

* Kelly Olynyk, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat as a free agent this summer, received a vote for the most underrated player acquisition of the offseason. Denver’s Paul Millsap (24%), Detroit’s Avery Bradley (17%), Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler (10%) and Cleveland’s Jae Crowder (10%) finished as the top four.

* Hassan Whiteside, who led the league in rebounding while averaging 2.1 blocks last season, was one of five players to receive a vote for the NBA’s best defensive player. San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (62%), Golden State’s Draymond Green (21%) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (10%) finished as the top three. However, Whiteside did not receive a single vote for the league’s top center. Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (28%), New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (24%), Memphis’ Marc Gasol (21%) and New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins (14%) were picked as the top four centers in the NBA. Whiteside also did not get a vote for the league’s top interior defender.

* Erik Spoelstra received a vote for best head coach in the NBA. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (82%) and Golden State’s Steve Kerr (11%) finished as the top two in this area. Spoelstra also received votes for the head coach who is the best manager/motivator of people, finishing third in this category with 7 percent of the vote behind Popovich (62%) and Kerr (17%). Finally, Spoelstra also earned some recognition for the head coach who has the best defensive schemes. He finished tied with Utah’s Quin Snyder and Kerr for third place with 7 percent of the vote in this area.

* Tyler Johnson and James Johnson were among nine players who received votes for bench player who makes the biggest impact when he enters the game. Golden State’s Andre Iguodala (41%), Houston’s Eric Gordon (24%), Minnesota’s Jamal Crawford (10%) and Los Angeles’ Lou Williams (7%) finished as the top four.

* James Johnson received a vote for the toughest player in the NBA. Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (14%), Golden State’s Draymond Green (14%) and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (14%) were voted as the top three.

[Not among top 5 centers; Heat’s Hassan Whiteside using snub as motivation]

[Heat’s Justise Winslow working hard to improve his outside shot: ‘It’s a huge priority for me’]

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