The general manager role may just be the toughest role in professional sports – with influence, power, and billions of dollars at stake, every move is scrutinized by players, fans, owners, and the media relentlessly. 

Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports have analyzed the performance of hundreds of GMs across the four major North American professional leagues—Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League.

Crunching the numbers on winning improvement by each GM and cross-referencing their cost-per-win index, the sports analysts can reveal the best – and worst GMs in the world of sports.

The 10 Worst GMs in US Sports

Dave Gettleman of the New York Giants and Jets’ Joe Douglas find themselves at the bottom of the bottom of the table and as the worst GMs with a low score of 211.5 and 211.8.

Gettleman’s his time with the Giant will be remembered mostly for questionable drafting choice, a lack of progression, and 14 wins over three seasons. Joe Douglas of the Jets has been in post since 2019 and results have been below-average to bad, maxing out at seven wins in 2019 and falling to two wins in 2020.

General ManagerLeagueTeamWinning ImprovementCost per win IndexFinal Score
Dave GettlemanNFLNew York Giants71.768.1211.5
Brian WrightNBASan Antonio Spurs67.077.8211.8
Joe DouglasNFLNew York Jets75.864.8216.4
Steve YzermanNHLDetroit Red Wings75.076.4226.5
Travis SchlenkNBAAtlanta Hawks74.378.7227.4
Al AvilaMLBDetroit Tigers77.575.7230.6
Tommy SheppardNBAWashington Wizards79.976.0235.8
Ben CheringtonMLBPittsburgh Pirates75.785.5236.9
Ryan PaceNFLChicago Bears81.877.1240.7
Chris BallardNFLIndianapolis Colts82.779.5244.9

The Top 10 GMs in US Sports

Despite losing his opening game, Les Snead of defending champions LA Ram’s is the number one best GM with a final score of 668.8, followed by two NBA GMs – Jones from the Suns and 76ers’ Elton Brand in positions two and three.

Half of the top 10 GMs come from the NBA, and three each from the NFL and NHL.

General ManagerLeagueTeamWinning ImprovementCost per win IndexFinal Score
Les SneadNFLLos Angeles Rams293.382.1668.8
James JonesNBAPhoenix Suns211.185.5507.8
Elton BrandNBAPhiladelphia 76ers195.182.6472.8
Jon RobinsonNFLTennessee Titans176.682.5435.8
Rob PelinkaNBALos Angeles Lakers173.580.8427.7
Bob MyersNBAGolden State Warriors162.982.6408.4
Jon HorstNBAMilwaukee Bucks160.283.3403.8
Mickey LoomisNFLNew Orleans Saints144.182.8371.0
Don WaddellNHLCarolina Hurricanes139.783.1362.4
Doug ArmstrongNHLSt. Louis Blues136.981.7355.5

Full Ranking

PositionGeneral ManagerLeagueTeamWinning ImprovementCost per win IndexFinal Score
1Les SneadNFLLos Angeles Rams293.382.1668.8
2James JonesNBAPhoenix Suns211.185.5507.8
3Elton BrandNBAPhiladelphia 76ers195.182.6472.8
4Jon RobinsonNFLTennessee Titans176.682.5435.8
5Rob PelinkaNBALos Angeles Lakers173.580.8427.7
6Bob MyersNBAGolden State Warriors162.982.6408.4
7Jon HorstNBAMilwaukee Bucks160.283.3403.8
8Mickey LoomisNFLNew Orleans Saints144.182.8371.0
9Don WaddellNHLCarolina Hurricanes139.783.1362.4
10Doug ArmstrongNHLSt. Louis Blues136.981.7355.5
11Bill BelichickNFLNew England Patriots131.686.4349.5
12Brandon BeaneNFLBuffalo Bills131.383.5346.1
13Brett VeachNFLKansas City Chiefs130.285.7346.0
14Jason LichtNFLTampa Bay Buccaneers133.377.3344.0
15Ken HollandNHLEdmonton Oilers131.180.9343.2
16David PoileNHLNashville Predators128.581.9338.8
17Eric DeCostaNFLBaltimore Ravens126.285.1337.5
18Kyle DubasNHLToronto Maple Leafs127.679.5334.6
19Mike MayockNFLLas Vegas Raiders126.679.7332.8
20Thad LevineMLBMinnesota Twins123.582.3329.4
21Jerry JonesNFLDallas Cowboys121.781.7325.1
22Scott HarrisMLBSan Francisco Giants121.480.6323.5
23Alex AnthopoulosMLBAtlanta Braves120.781.7323.0
24John SchneiderNFLSeattle Seahawks119.283.9322.3
25Zachary KleimanNBAMemphis Grizzlies117.583.7318.7
26Brian GutekunstNFLGreen Bay Packers116.384.6317.2
27Jarmo KekäläinenNHLColumbus Blue Jackets117.380.5315.1
28Justin ZanikNBAUtah Jazz115.183.2313.3
29Kevin ColbertNFLPittsburgh Steelers114.284.0312.4
30Kevin CheveldayoffNHLWinnipeg Jets114.981.3311.1
31Mike RizzoMLBWashington Nationals116.278.3310.6
32Mike ChernoffMLBCleveland Guardians111.487.1309.9
33Sam PrestiNBAOklahoma City Thunder112.982.1307.9
34Bill GuerinNHLMinnesota Wild112.681.9307.1
35Brad TrelivingNHLCalgary Flames112.680.1305.3
36Steve KeimNFLArizona Cardinals111.381.0303.6
37Bobby WebsterNBAToronto Raptors109.983.3303.1
38Rick SpielmanNFLMinnesota Vikings111.279.3301.6
39Nick KrallMLBCincinnati Reds111.079.5301.4
40Joe SakicNHLColorado Avalanche109.481.8300.5
41Jerry DipotoMLBSeattle Mariners109.281.5299.9
42Chris GrierNFLMiami Dolphins109.680.4299.6
43Doug WilsonNHLSan Jose Sharks109.180.6298.8
44John HammondNBAOrlando Magic112.373.7298.4
45Brian MacLellanNHLWashington Capitals108.281.1297.4
46Lou LamorielloNHLNew York Islanders108.979.7297.4
47Kim NgMLBMiami Marlins103.789.4296.9
48Jim NillNHLDallas Stars107.179.9294.1
49Julien BriseBoisNHLTampa Bay Lightning104.380.9289.4
50Mike HazenMLBArizona Diamondbacks102.083.8287.8
51Ross AtkinsMLBToronto Blue Jays103.479.4286.3
52David ForstMLBOakland Athletics98.688.8286.0
53Sean MarksNBABrooklyn Nets103.176.7282.9
54Don SweeneyNHLBoston Bruins98.282.4278.8
55John LynchNFLSan Francisco 49ers98.979.2276.9
56Brian CashmanMLBNew York Yankees102.867.7273.2
57Mitch KupchakNBACharlotte Hornets96.180.7272.8
58James ClickMLBHouston Astros98.675.3272.6
59Mike GirschMLBSt. Louis Cardinals97.077.7271.7
60A.J. PrellerMLBSan Diego Padres95.179.6269.9
61Chuck FletcherNHLPhiladelphia Flyers95.178.2268.5
62Howie RosemanNFLPhiladelphia Eagles93.081.0267.0
63Trajan LangdonNBANew Orleans Pelicans92.676.5261.6
64Michael WingerNBALos Angeles Clippers89.881.1260.7
65Brian O’HalloranMLBBoston Red Sox91.675.1258.4
66Rick HahnMLBChicago White Sox88.880.2257.8
67Mike BrownNFLCincinnati Bengals90.075.8255.9
68Chad BuchananNBAIndiana Pacers87.579.8254.7
69Tom TelescoNFLLos Angeles Chargers86.078.3250.3
70Andy ElisburgNBAMiami Heat85.080.1250.0
71Rob BlakeNHLLos Angeles Kings84.979.5249.4
72Pierre DorionNHLOttawa Senators83.780.6248.1
73Mike EliasMLBBaltimore Orioles78.388.6245.3
74Chris BallardNFLIndianapolis Colts82.779.5244.9
75Ryan PaceNFLChicago Bears81.877.1240.7
76Ben CheringtonMLBPittsburgh Pirates75.785.5236.9
77Tommy SheppardNBAWashington Wizards79.976.0235.8
78Al AvilaMLBDetroit Tigers77.575.7230.6
79Travis SchlenkNBAAtlanta Hawks74.378.7227.4
80Steve YzermanNHLDetroit Red Wings75.076.4226.5
81Joe DouglasNFLNew York Jets75.864.8216.4
82Brian WrightNBASan Antonio Spurs67.077.8211.8
83Dave GettlemanNFLNew York Giants71.768.1211.5


Methodology’s experts compared the win/loss percentage of the team’s current GM with the previous five years before his tenure.

Calculating the financial performance of GMs across different sports is far more complicated. The finances of the NFL, NHL, and NBA are largely controlled by a salary cap in each sport, with some flexibility in the NBA. In the MLB there is a salary figure over which teams must pay a luxury tax on top of any money they spend on paying players.

This diversity means it’s hard to evaluate teams from different sports, particularly where some sports teams are encouraged and in fact, required to pay a minimum amount to players (in the NFL teams must spend at least 95% of the salary cap), and in others, they are incredibly frugal and try to spend as little as possible (take for example the Baltimore Orioles who will spend less than $50mil for their total payroll in 2022, less than 20% of the top spending MLB team, the Los Angeles Dodgers).

With this in mind: teams were measured by how much they spent as a percentage of their league’s average spend, divided by their win/loss percentage.
This gives us a reliable and versatile metric that can be used to evaluate the effective spending of a GM in any major sport.

Featured Image: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports
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