LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favourites for the 2016-2017 National Basketball Association (NBA) crown, a survey of the league's general managers showed Tuesday.
The Warriors, beaten in last year's finals by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, are backed by a whopping 69 per of GMs to regain the title they last won in 2015.
The Warriors lost an epic NBA Finals duel against the Cavs in June, being pipped 4-3 in the best-of-seven series. However since that bitter defeat the Warriors have strengthened their squad with the addition of Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant.
Only 31 percent of GMs polled backed James and the Cavaliers to mount a successful defence of their title. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors and the Cavs are the overwhelming favorites to top their respective conferences, both coming out on top with 96.7 per cent.
The Warriors were backed to finish ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference, while the Cavs were expected to finish first ahead of Toronto and Boston in the East.
Golden State's stellar line-up was also tipped to be the most likely to be fun to watch, with 93.3 per cent of the votes.
Nevertheless, while the Warriors remained overwhelming favorites, Cleveland talisman James was tipped to be the season MVP, with 46.7 per cent of the votes, ahead of Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook 23.3 per cent and Golden State's Stephen Curry and Houston's James Harden, both with 10 per cent.
The survey however found that Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns was the most coveted player in the league. Asked to name the one player they could sign if they were starting a franchise, Towns topped the poll with 48.3 per cent, ahead of Durant (20.7 per cent) and James (17.2 per cent).
Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo was named as the best international player in the league with 27.6 per cent ahead of Memphis's Marc Gasol and the evergreen Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas.