The Doldrums of May

The Doldrums of May
May 15, 2008, 08:55 am
New NBA rules state that teams are no longer allowed to work out potential draft picks until the conclusion of the NBA pre-draft camp on June 3rd. That leaves a lot of dead time for non-playoff teams between the end of the season (April 16th) and the start of the pre-draft camp (May 27th). What goes on in NBA front offices during that time? We decided to talk to four key personnel members to find out. "

Director of Player Personnel, Eastern Conference Team

“The two main things I’m doing right now are watching tape, and spending time on the phone. We use mostly our own film, I watch a lot of full NCAA or International games that I zip through. I’m also trying to get workouts organized, which is not an easy thing considering where we are in the lottery. Most agents won’t commit a firm date to us until the ping pong balls come out. As far as our 2nd round pick goes, we’re not big on bringing a lot of guys in to work out for that. We’ve had a lot of success over the past few years in the second round, and most of it was based off our own evaluations.

A big thing right now is the background research we do. Instead of targeting only the NCAA head coaches, I like to talk to some of the lower level guys there too, the strength and conditioning coaches for example, and the trainers. I try to find people without a vested interest in the players, for example speaking to the NCAA coach of a team that recruited the player out of high school, but may not have gotten him. The type of background info we look at? For example off the floor habits, work ethic, whether the player is goal oriented, what kind of student he is, the family background—all the little things that might help you.

I don’t do a lot of traveling at this point. I used to go around and watch players workout at the different training facilities in LA or other places for examples—where you can see many different prospects at once—that helped me got a lot accomplished—seeing how hard they work, seeing their body type and size in person, observing their skill level. That was tremendous before they stopped that a year ago.

Director of Scouting, Eastern Conference Team

“There are a lot of things going on for me every day. For example setting up workouts, which is quite a job, since as you know, according to the agents there are at least 100 first round guys out there right now. I’m also putting together the schedules for our scouts and coaches in the summer, organizing where all of our players will be going and what they will be doing in the summer. We’re conducting a free agent camp, which we’ll bring in 20 guys for. Also our summer league team is something we’re putting together right now.

I’m watching a lot of film, mostly edits that we create internally—offensive touches, passing, defensive plays, and various other categories that we study to break down the different strengths and weaknesses. We put together a good half a player played, alongside a bad half, to give you a more complete picture. As the draft gets closer, we’ll watch more film together, so we can share information amongst each other.

Background research on the various prospects is an important part of what we’re doing. Talking to the college coaches, the high school coaches, AAU coaches, anyone that might have important information that I want to write up. I try to ask them point blank questions about any incidents we might know of, try to find out about past problems that have come up. Anything bad, but also anything good—for example things the player has done in the community or in school. These people won’t always tell you everything you need to know, but you develop certain relationships over the years with people who you know will give you the inside scoop on things.

I will be going to Treviso again—I’ve been there for __ straight years, and of course Orlando. We come in there for the most part knowing what to look for, but it’s a great opportunity to take another up close look at guys outside of their college environment and judge different things. The groundwork of their profile we evaluate in college, but the physical profile—their true size, athleticism, etc, is something we’ll look at again. "

Director of Scouting, Western Conference Team

“It must be quiet in your world if you want to know a day in the life of me - it might put you to sleep!

Actually, we just returned from a scouting trip to Europe and are obviously preparing for the draft - watching a ton of film and talking to a lot of coaches about prospects. The advantage of watching tape in my mind is really the quantity involved. You can watch a player live maybe 4-5 times, but with the way we watch tape, we can watch a player 30 times if you put the effort in. There is really not a huge difference there, it’s mostly just studying, coming up with your own point of view, justifying it, and then reaffirming it, over and over again. Right now I’m watching a lot of tape by myself, but later on as we get closer to the draft we’ll be watching prospects together all of us—and then start locking in later on smaller targets.

We talk every day about the draft and draft prospects and it is a fun time of year for us as we get the chance to debate about all these prospects. We are always talking about our team and our players as well. We do a mock draft about every 2-3 days as well.

Typically we spend most of the mornings meeting and watching film. Maybe grab some lunch or a workout and then come back and watch more film or make phone calls to coaches, agents, etc. I am scheduling all our pre-draft workouts as well. Having multiple picks in the second round, it’s a new challenge this year, especially with the new rule that allows us to have 6 players at a time working out on the floor. It’s not so much getting players in as it is fitting in the dates everyone wants, as well as the matchups we want to see.

Later on will be the pre-draft camp, which is a great opportunity to see a lot of players at once at the same time, often at times playing a different position than they did in college, which is nice for us. Sometimes they’ll be playing out of position completely too, so that works both ways really. Seeing guys up close gives us an opportunity to confirm what we observed during the season—playing with new faces, a different group of guys than they may be used to, seeing what they’ve been doing since the end of the season, whether they’ve been taking care of themselves physically.

This is a great time of year to introduce all these prospects to our coaches as well. They have a general idea about almost every player in this draft—we prepare them accordingly, give them our stance on different guys—not trying to influence them, but rather make sure they don’t go into the draft blind.

Hope this helps - let me know if you need anything else!”

Director of Scouting, Eastern Conference Team

“At this time, we are definitely not on vacation.

There are a lot of things that we are doing together as a staff and also individually.

We meet regularly; we review our rankings and listing, look at DVD's; and have a variety of discussions regarding our team and the draft.

I am in the process of putting together free agent workouts, draft workouts, as well as preliminary Summer league groups. So, lots of phone calls and discussions. Scouts are doing work on the players in their regions, as well as in the total draft.

The next stage is to see how the draft lottery turns out - then more scheduling of workouts continues. Then of course, the Pre-Draft Camp, and then the workouts.

Seems like a lot of time - but on the other hand a lot of things to get done.”

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