As basketball fans know, the NBA Draft is far from an exact science. Despite NBA teams spending millions of dollars each year on scouting, talented players inevitably fall into the second round while some players are overvalued leading up to the draft.
While the front offices of NBA teams are full of talented scouts and basketball minds, the most important person in the puzzle, the general manager, often has to rely on his scouting staff to determine which players are brought in for a closer look during the weeks leading up to the draft.
Due to commitments during the season such as traveling with the team, working on trades and adding players to 10-day contracts, a general manager tends to send out members of his scouting staff to attend college games rather than attend in person.
“The thing about that is for the most part everything is already on film, so I’ll see everything everybody has seen,” Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy explained to the media during a visit to Toronto last season.
“The only thing I won’t see is what is in person and that’s why you have your guys at games for you; you want to see players interactions with their teammates and with their coaches. It’s more about attitude off the ball because most of the cameras focus on the ball.”
While some fans want a general manager who can dedicate himself solely to front office duties like attending college games, the truth is few general managers around the NBA attend a large amount of college games. Instead, they send out a representative to see how a player interacts with his teammates, coaching staff and how the player deals adversity.
General managers gauge what they’ve seen on tape combined with what their scouts suggest to determine which players will be brought in for individual workouts.
“Matter of fact, there are a lot of GM’s who don’t even go out,” Dunleavy explained. “They stay at home and they have their regional guys go out. Then they bring them all in and make decisions based on workouts and the stuff they see in film.”
If you’re going to invest a substantial amount of money into a team of scouts you might as well trust the people you’ve hired to fulfill their job requirement. By having scouts attend games teams are able to get a gauge on a much larger scope of players than if just the general manager was flying around the country trying to single-handily evaluate all the potential draft candidates.
While a lot of traditionalists claim it’s invaluable to see a prospect in person during games, it’s clear that this system of evaulating prospects is paying dividens for Dunleavy and the Clippers as they’ve drafted franchise cornerstones Eric Gordon and Al Thornton during the past two drafts.