Suns’ James Jones wins Executive of the Year over Dennis Lindsey, Sean Marks in close race


James Jones has been voted as the 2020-21 NBA Executive of the Year in an incredibly close race. The Phoenix Suns general manager narrowly beat out Utah Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey and Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks for the honor. Unlike other awards, Executive of the Year is voted on by the executives themselves.

Both Jones and Lindsey received nine first-place votes, the most of any executive. They both received five second-place votes as well, but Jones was left off of only eleven total ballots, receiving five third-place votes. Lindsey got only one third-place vote, and that was the difference. Jones won by four total points. Marks finished in third, 14 points behind Jones and 10 behind Lindsey. Here’s how the voting broke down in the end.

Executive

First-place votes

Second-place votes

Third-place votes

Total points

James Jones

9

5

5

65

Dennis Lindsey

9

5

1

61

Sean Marks

5

7

5

51

Leon Rose

1

4

3

20

Tim Connelly

2

2

2

18

Travis Schlenk

1

2

6

17

Mitch Kupchak

1

1

2

10

Jeff Weltman

0

2

1

7

Sam Presti

1

0

0

5

Neil Olshey

1

0

0

5

Daryl Morey

0

1

1

4

Tommy Sheppard

0

1

1

4

Jon Horst

0

0

3

3

Jones took over the Suns in 2018 after former general manager Ryan McDonough was surprisingly fired mere weeks before the season. By then, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges were already in place, but Jones supported that core with a stellar group of role players, including Jae Crowder on a mid-level exception deal, Cam Johnson and Dario Saric in a draft-night trade and Cameron Payne from the G League. 

Of course, the move that won him this award was the one that may well win him the championship. Last offseason, he dealt Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for star point guard Chris Paul, who helped lead them to the second-best record in basketball at 51-21. They are now seven wins away from a championship as they lead the Los Angeles Clippers 1-0 in the Western Conference finals. 

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Lindsey made a similar addition in Mike Conley Jr. but did so in the 2019 offseason. His only major addition since the 2020 NBA Finals was Derrick Favors, and even though the Jazz had the best record in basketball, Jones’ more recent moves likely helped nudge him past Utah’s head basketball executive in the eyes of the voters. Marks made perhaps the splashiest trade of the season by acquiring James Harden, but the New York market and Brooklyn’s existing star power played a major role in Harden forcing his way there. 

A total of 13 executives received votes for the award. That is almost half of the eligible voting pool, but in the end, the top choices came from the league’s best teams. Jones and Lindsey built the top two teams in the West. Marks came in second in the East. That made them obvious choices atop these ballots.



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