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Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman wins Executive of the Year

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Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman wins Executive of the Year


Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman has been voted the 2021-22 NBA Executive of the Year, per a league press statement.

Jerry West is the sole prior Grizzlies executive to receive the award, for his work during the 2003-04 season. The statement notes that the 33-year-old Kleiman is the youngest winner of the honor in its history. The NBA reveals that Kleiman earned 16 of 29 possible first-place votes from his fellow NBA executives, netting a total of 85 points in his favor from the league’s voting system. Kleiman finished sixth in voting for the 2019-2020 NBA season.

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Cavaliers president Koby Altman and Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas earned 27 points apiece, tying for second place as they led a pair of longtime lottery clubs back to the postseason with savvy personnel moves. The Cavaliers did not advance out of the play-in tournament, and the Bulls lost 4-1 to the Bucks in their first-round matchup. The top five was rounded out by another tie, as Suns GM James Jones, the 2020-21 NBA Executive of the Year, and Heat president Pat Riley each notched 26 points in voting. Both their top-seeded clubs lead their respective Conference Semifinals series 3-2 as of this writing.

“This is an organizational honor,” Kleiman said of the award in a Grizzlies press release. “I wouldn’t be in this position without [owner] Robert [Pera]’s vision and support, and I’m grateful to be pursuing NBA championships in Memphis with such a driven and competitive group of players and staff. Thank you to my peers for this recognition.”

Thanks in part to the excellent roster-building work of Kleiman, Memphis finished with a 56-26 record in the Western Conference, tying the club’s all-time franchise mark for regular-season wins. Breakout Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, selected with the second pick out of Murray State in 2019, made his first All-Star team and won the 2021-22 Most Improved Player Award for his work this season. Morant was Kleiman’s first pick made as the Grizzlies’ lead executive, a role he has had since April 2019. The Grizzlies first hired Kleiman to serve as their in-house legal counsel in 2015. He became assistant GM to under then-lead decision-maker Chris Wallace during the 2018-19 season. Kleiman was subsequently promoted following a team re-structuring that moved Wallace to a scouting role.

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