The NBA recently announced their Executive of the Year Award for the 2011-2012 season. Larry Bird ended up winning the award voted on by a panel of league execs, which seems pretty fair. Bird assembled a team that most experts considered to be middle of the road before the season, but the Pacers have exceeded expectations by a large margin. They had the third best record in the Eastern Conference this year and they're currently up 2-1 over the heavily favored Miami Heat in their second round playoff series. (Sorry, haters waiting to board the Pacers schadenfreude bandwagon--the line is already around the block. You'll have to wait your turn.)
But if you go a little further down the list--tenth place, to be exact--you might raise an eyebrow at what you see.
Why? Because Minnesota's own David Kahn is apparently considered a top-ten NBA executive.
Yes, THAT David Kahn. The lightning rod for satire was bested by only nine of his peers in the voting this season. Bill Simmons has probably been Kahn's most visible critic over the past few years: the Grantland founder has included Kahn in his fictional "Atrocious GM Summits" along with countless "KAAAHHHNNN!!" Tweets and column rants due to his puzzling roster moves.
It's the same David Kahn that has passed on Stephen Curry and traded away Ty Lawson in favor of Jonny Flynn and a Spanish kid that didn't want to be on the team back in 2009. The same David Kahn that appeared to be assembling a team that consisted solely of and point guards and swingmen with no discernible NBA position. The same David Kahn that was a sportswriter and attorney before somehow landing a high-ranking gig with the Indiana Pacers in a very short amount of time. Let's face it--the guy isn't exactly overflowing with top-notch experience at his position.
Of course, that tenth place finish might be a little misleading as well. The Pioneer Press explains:
Kahn received one second-place vote and one third-place vote to finish with four points.
That means only two of the voters
were completely out of their mind actually thought Kahn was worthy of a vote. Apparently the voting was very top-heavy, so there was barely any space between the remaining GMs outside the first five.
While we can debate the validity of Kahn being a top-tier NBA executive, there's no denying the fact that the Timberwolves enjoyed a nice upswing this past season before injuries finally extinguished their playoff hopes. For the first time since the departure of Kevin Garnett in 2004, the Wolves have a solid young nucleus to build around. If Kahn can put the correct pieces around the likes of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Derrick Williams going forward, maybe he can actually earn a status as an elite NBA executive instead of lucking into a couple fluky votes.