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The Los Angeles Lakers have been installed as overwhelming favourites to win back-to-back NBA titles according to results of the league's annual general managers survey released Friday.
The Lakers, who won a 17th NBA crown two months ago in the Orlando quarantine bubble, were backed by 81% of GMs taking part in the survey to successfully defend the title.
It follows an abbreviated offseason which saw the Lakers strengthen an already formidable roster led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The roster moves are largely seen as significant upgrades for the Lakers, who tip-off their new campaign against the Clippers at Staples Center next Tuesday.
The Clippers were picked as second favorites by 11% of GMs surveyed while the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat also picked up votes.
In the individual predictions, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo was tipped to win Most Valuable Player honors for a third straight season by 32% of GMs, ahead of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who polled 21%.
The Lakers duo of Davis and James each received 18% of votes, while former MVP Kevin Durant, who is returning this year after missing the entire 2019-2020 campaign through injury, received 7% of votes.
Antetokounmpo and Doncic were also deadlocked amongst GMs asked to choose the player they would sign if starting a new franchise.
Miami's Erik Spoelstra was named as the best head coach in the NBA ahead of the Toronto Raptors' Nick Nurse and the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich.