Sixers' impactful moves

As if Elton Brand making the cover of Sports Illustrated were not enough, the NBA released its annual survey of general managers and 52 percent believe the 76ers made the best overall moves this past offseason and 67 percent believe Brand’s move to Philadelphia will be the most impactful player acquisition.

The expectations continue to rise for this team ...

The Sixers, however, still lag behind in terms of their chances to win the Atlantic Division, according to the GMs. Boston is still the heavy favorite -- as the NBA champions should be -- with 85.2 percent predicting that the Celtics will win the division. The Sixers were the choice for division champ by 11.1 percent and Toronto by 3.7 percent.

The Celts were also picked to win the Eastern Conference by 74.1 percent and win the NBA Finals by 19.2. The Lakers, however, were selected to the NBA title by 46.2 percent. For the first time in five years, the GMs did not select the Spurs to win the championship.

The survey asks many, many variations of questions, but we'll hit you with the highlights:

* Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (56 percent) was selected by GMs for the third consecutive year to win the regular season MVP.
Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat -- rookie of the year (48 percent)
* For the first time, Dwight Howard, center for the Orlando Magic (56 percent), and New Orleans Hornets’ point guard Chris Paul (89 percent) were voted as the top players at their positions. The Cavaliers’ James (93 percent) was viewed as the best small forward, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (93 percent) was selected as the best shooting guard and the Spurs’ Tim Duncan (52 percent) finished as the best power forward. 

* Spurs’ Gregg Popovich - best head coach in the NBA (54 percent) 
* Utah Jazz – best home-court advantage (44 percent)
* Celtics’ Kevin Garnett - best defensive player (44 percent)
* Lakers’ Andrew Bynum - most likely to have breakout season (19 percent) 
* New Orleans Hornets – most fun team to watch (27 percent)
* Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat – most improved team (each 26 percent) 
* Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni – head coach that runs the best offense (54 percent) 
* Hornets’ Chris Paul - fastest player with the ball (37 percent)
* Blazers’ Rudy Fernandez – which international rookie is most ready to contribute this season (52 percent)