In a poll of NBA front-office executives, the Miami Heat was an overwhelming pick to repeat as world champions in 2012-13, followed by the revamped Los Angeles Lakers and the Thunder.
SI.com’s Sam Amick polled 19 NBA executives, with three of the voters submitting only first-place votes, and the Heat received 15 first-place votes, one second-place vote and two third-place votes. The Lakers, who acquired point guard Steve Nash and Dwight Howard during the offseason, had two first-place votes, nine second-place votes and six third-place votes, while the Thunder received two first-place votes, six second-place votes and eight third-place votes.
In on-line voting for next season‘s NBA championship, the Lakers are receiving 48.84 percent of the votes, the Heat 30.69 percent, the Thunder 7.53 percent and the Boston Celtics 6.08 percent.
“Miami and Oklahoma City are the known commodities by comparison,” Amick writes. “The Heat’s championship experience, quality additions (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) and the fact that the best player on the planet, LeBron James, is still getting better means they’re even more dangerous than before. And while the Thunder’s most significant offseason moves were securing extensions for coach Scott Brooks and power forward Serge Ibaka, it’s been three straight years of relentless progress for them and the lesson should have been learned by now that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden & Co. are not to be trifled with. What’s more, Harden’s uncertain status beyond this season creates a potential ‘make or break-up year,’ as one voter said.
• Western Conference general manager who ranked his top three as Miami, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City: “Miami: Obvious reason. Lakers: If Nash can stay healthy. OKC: Too much talent.”
• Western Conference executive who voted Miami, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City: “LeBron and Dwyane Wade will carry the Heat once again. The Lakers will need to jell and stay healthy, but with their new mix of players they will be tough to beat. I don’t see the Thunder getting back to the Finals if the Lakers play to their potential, but the Thunder should be back in the West finals again for another crack at it.”
- John Rohde