This coming Thursday, June 25, the NBA will hold its annual Draft Day. Most of us know that the current draft consists of two rounds of 30 picks. That’s a far cry from the 10 rounds from 1974 to 1985 and the 7 rounds from ’85 to ’89-not to mention the 1960 and 1968 Drafts which went 21 rounds-when the teams drafted until they were out of prospects.
Now, I’ll admit I’m a big fan of the NBA Draft. There’s the pure entertainment value of the Green Room drama, the trades, the commentators’ banter and sometimes even the draftees’ apparel selections. The only really annoying feature is the behavior of some of the lubricated knuckleheads in attendance.
But beyond all the hoopla, there is much for us to consider about the draft process-mainly player evaluation. The NBA prospects (and that goes way beyond the 60 players chosen) are evaluated and reevaluated by literally hundreds of real scouts and even more pseudo-scouts. A cliché in the business is that there are more “scouts” living in their parents’ basements with access to laptops than there are legitimate league, team and web scouts.
Obviously, we’re not privy to each of the teams’ internal scouting reports but you can find reasonable facsimiles by respected specialist bloggers at Draft Express, NBAdraft.net, hoopshabit.com and others. You can also find individual player evaluation forms with a little investigation.
The upshot of all this is the evaluation of all the players on your team/program in a systematic, detailed way- perhaps even as a staff project. You may even want to evaluate your opponents’ players in the same manner. The more detailed your reports are-the better. You obviously want to include all the key components of a scouting report: physical description; athleticism; skill levels; position play and all the various intangibles like competitiveness, poise, team play and many others. Whether you use a letter, number or word system to delineate various levels is up to you. It just needs to be as consistent as possible. However, you have to choose a standard; for instance a good player on your team or in your system, a good player at a certain level etc. There just needs to be a baseline. The NBA standard is “at what level can he play in the league?”
To what end would we do all this work, some might ask. The answer is simple-player development. If you and your staff are on the same page and have an internal record (if you wish, you could share these reports with your players and parents), you then could devise individual player plans to address the sub-standard areas.
You could follow up with drills to coincide with your player plans at your regular in-season practices during an “independent drill” time slot- where players worked on their weaknesses-almost like an “open classroom” setting. Depending on your local rules, you might also utilize these drills in the off-season or on weekends. Again, once you establish a course of action, your creativity and situation can guide you.
Just keep in mind all the scouting and evaluation background when you watch the upcoming NBA Draft. It’s ironic that the very best players in the world have their games broken down to such microscopic details. Players below that level, who have the greatest room for improvement, often get very little systematic evaluation and very little follow up. We, as coaches, can change that and help improve our players dramatically.