Alex Kennedy, Hoopshype.com (http://hoopshype.com/2017/06/20/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-the-life-as-an-nba-scout/)
Most diehard NBA fans can name the majority of general managers around the league, and some can identify a handful of the top agents. However, scouts are virtually anonymous despite playing a crucial role in an organization’s decision-making process.
HoopsHype talked to several NBA scouts to get an idea of what their life is like behind-the-scenes. Each scout spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from their respective NBA organization.
What are the biggest misconceptions about scouting?
Scout No. 1: “A lot of people think it’s this luxurious life, but it’s the opposite of that. That’s not to say there aren’t good parts. But you spend a bunch of time traveling, a bunch of time talking to handlers and a bunch of time gathering background information. There are times when you’re watching film or seeing a player in person, but there’s more to it than that.”
Scout No. 2: “People always ask me, ‘How did you get such a great job?’ They think it’s amazing because I’m traveling the world and doing what they view as fun work. But it’s not always fun. The traveling is brutal. As a scout, sometimes you’re visiting seven cities in five days. You’re watching a ton of different teams and writing a ton of reports.”
Scout No. 3: “Being a scout can be a lot of fun, but if you’re doing it long-term, there are more cons than pros. It definitely takes a toll on your family. With that said, I think it’s something that you have to go through and the best way to prepare for a front-office job. As a scout, you’re in touch with so many different people – players, agents, GMs, team presidents – and you create a vast network of people who can help you in the long run. I think it’s excellent preparation.”
Scout No. 4: “The biggest misconception is, ‘Hey, I could easily do that job.’ Anyone can watch a game and anyone can be right about a few players, but having success in this job over the long haul is more difficult than people think. It’s very difficult and takes a lot of work. And I can’t stress how much of this job is gathering background information.”
Scout No. 1: “More time is spent on gathering information than watching basketball, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that. You’re trying to figure out what a guy does in his free time, what kind of activities he’s interested in and who he is as a person. I would talk current and past coaches, friends of the family, handlers and anyone else who would have information about the prospect.”
Scout No. 2: “Sometimes I feel like a private investigator (laughs). Most of my job is gathering intel. I call anyone I can. I call equipment managers, doctors, physiotherapists, teammates, friends, coaches. I want to find out as much as I can about a player. Is he completely healthy? Does he smoke? Does he drink? Does he have a good relationship with his wife? These are things that we want to know before investing in a player.”
Scout No. 4: “I can’t emphasize enough how much of this job is doing character research on players, and that’s really difficult info to get. You need sources who have information, and then you need to be able to decode the information to see how much is true, how much is exaggerated and how that own individual’s biases may taint the information. It’s not just finding sources, it’s finding reliable sources.”
Scout No. 1: “A lot of people will say, ‘You get paid to watch basketball!’ but you’re getting paid to watch basketball in a completely different way. I’ve talked to a lot of musicians who say that they can’t enjoy music the same way anymore. If they start listening to music, they start evaluating and deconstructing every little part of a song. That’s kind of how I feel when I watch basketball now. You aren’t watching the game from the perspective of a fan, you’re watching it to break down certain things. That’s not to say that watching games like that isn’t enjoyable in its own way, it’s just different. It’s a misconception about scouts that I run into because people don’t realize we’re watching the game differently.”
Scout No. 3: “When you’re watching a game live, you aren’t necessarily looking at the game. You’re looking at how the player warms up, how he reacts when the team is losing, how he reacts to the coach yelling at him, how he interacts with his teammates, whether he has confrontations with the referee or fans, how he acts during timeouts, how he handles being benched. There are so many things that you’re watching for that have nothing to do with the player’s skills.”
Scout No. 2: “Even my friends don’t exactly understand what my job entails. They think you’re trying to uncover a player that nobody knows about, like you’re going to walk into a gym and uncover the next Giannis Antetokounmpo and nobody knows about him. In reality, it’s really hard these days to find a player nobody knows. You’re trying to notice things that other people don’t notice and know as much as possible about the player. The goal is to fill my team’s database with as much information as possible about as many players as possible.”
Scout No. 3: “A lot of people think that there’s only one type of scout, which is a huge misconception. If an NBA organization wants to do a good job when it comes to scouting players, they need to have advanced scouts, college scouts, international amateur scouts, international pro-player scouts, D-League scouts and pro-personnel scouts that evaluate the other 29 NBA teams looking for possible trade targets. Many fans think that one scout does all of those things, but that’s impossible. A scout who’s good at judging young talent may not be good at judging a current pro player and how they’ll fit in a specific system. They’re used to projecting how good a player will be in a few years versus what a player can do now in a particular role. You need to have a lot of scouts with different roles.”
Scout No. 4: “There are differences. Advanced scouts, which I think have the hardest job, are breaking down opponents that your team is going to face. You literally have to be able to diagram the plays, get the play-calls and send them to your coach. That’s a lot of pressure, and you need to get all of that information in the system and back to your coach that night because it’s important stuff that may be crucial to winning your next game. With pro-personnel scouting, you’re watching every player on the floor. With college or international scouting, you’re watching a handful of players.”
Scout No. 5: “There are some organizations that will have one regional scout who evaluates all of the college, D-League and NBA teams in his region. Other organizations will have different scouts assigned to the different levels. It varies from team to team.”
Do agents or player managers ever try to influence scouts?
Scout No. 1: “I was in Los Angeles talking to this guy, who was a handler of a handler, and he started offering me money to hype up his late-first/early-second draft prospect. I don’t know if he understood my job or role, but it was clear that this guy was used to offering people money as a way to influence them or get what he wants. It was a bizarre conversation. I’m not going to accept money and be manipulated. Maybe some other scouts do? I don’t know. I wasn’t going to let it impact my process. I just found it sort of amusing. Prior to working as a scout, I never knew that sort of thing existed. I think we all assume that money is exchanged at the college level and there’s money changing hands between agents and players, but I never thought of a scout being offered money like that. That surprised me.”
Scout No. 3: “Agents will come to me like, ‘Hey man, tell your boss that my guy is really good. If your team drafts him, we’ll split the commission.’ I’m always like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It’s not like I can call my GM and say, ‘Hey, I have a perfect player here!’ and then they draft him. It doesn’t work like that. And can you imagine the harm it would do my career if I wrote a report praising a player who sucks? I don’t care how much money you’re offering me, that harms my reputation. I’ve worked too hard and have too many long-term goals in this business to do something that stupid.”
Scout No. 2: “When the draft approaches, agents try to become your best friends. They don’t give a shit about you for the rest of the year, but they definitely want to be your friend around the draft. I’ve never been offered money from an agent – that’s the first I’ve heard about that. I’ve just had them beg me to help set up a workout so that their guy could help his draft stock or get a summer league look or something like that.”
What’s the worst part of the job?
Scout No. 2: “If you’re working any job in a front office, you’re traveling a ton and you’re consumed in your work. It affects all of your relationships. With my girlfriend, she’s understanding and she travels for work sometimes too. Still, it’s affected our relationship. I’ve tried working at night when my girlfriend is sleeping, but that’s not ideal either. It affects my friendships too. I rarely get to see my closest friends. Then, when I do see them, they’re upset that it’s been two months since we last caught up. That’s really tough.”
Scout No. 3: “The travel is definitely the worst part of the job. The scouts who are single couldn’t care less about traveling; they’d be fine traveling 300 days of the year. They can adjust because they don’t have many responsibilities. When you’re married and have kids, that takes a toll on your family. You aren’t spending the necessary amount of time with your wife and family. It takes a toll on your body too; you typically aren’t eating healthy or sleeping right.”
Scout No. 4: “I think the travel is one of the hardest parts of the job, if not the hardest. When you’re doing pro-personnel scouting, it’s not as bad because you’re in major cities with big airports and a lot of flights. When you’re doing college scouting or international scouting, it’s more difficult because you’re trying to get to places that aren’t near an airport or there’s no direct flight. That’s when the travel is exhausting.
“Also, you’re detached from your family for large parts of the year. The worst thing about scouting college players is that you miss so many graduations, birthday parties and important quality time with family and friends because you never have your Saturdays. Every Saturday, you’re gone because that’s when the big college games are being played. You really don’t have a weekend and that’s definitely a tough part of the job.”
Scout No. 5: “You’re with a team, but you aren’t really with a team since you’re on your own on the road for the most part. You have to be comfortable with a solitary lifestyle. The amount of time spent on the road is very challenging for guys with wives and kids. You have to have a really understanding and awesome wife because there are going to be parts of the year when she’s basically a single mother. She also has to be really flexible and understanding when it comes to where you live and the lack of job security. A lot of guys bounce around from team to team or city to city every four-to-five years. You’re judged on how the owner feels your boss is doing. It’s not like most careers. If the president of a company gets let go, not everyone below him is getting cleared out. But that happens in the NBA; we’re really dependent on the success and contract of our boss. That’s another downside to the job.”
Former Scout: “Early on, I was a regional scout and I was in an area where I could watch a lot of college teams, so I didn’t have to travel. But then they started having me travel more and more. They’d send me to conference tournaments and then the NCAA tournament and you get sucked in. Eventually, I was offered a Director of Scouting position – different organizations name it different things, but that’s what it was. I didn’t take it for a variety of reasons. Around the same time, I found out that my wife was pregnant. I realized that if I was going to continue down this career path in the NBA, I’d be on the road a ton and I wouldn’t necessarily like my lifestyle. If I was a single guy or my wife had a job where she was always traveling too, maybe it would’ve been a good fit. But I started looking around at all of the front-office people I knew and most of them were divorced and they never saw their kids. Most of them. And I’m not just talking about scouts, I’m talking about a lot of front-office people I knew. I didn’t want that kind of relationship with my kids or my wife, and that’s the main reason I got out.”
“One of my good friends – who’s held a number of different front-office jobs around the NBA over a long period of time – told me, ‘Get out. Get out now. If you don’t get out, you’re going to get divorced and 20 years down the road, you’ll only be qualified to do this. You don’t want that.’ Now, he was very cynical (laughs), but I did get that kind of feedback from various people in the business.”
What’s the best part of the job?
Scout No. 1: “I really liked looking for things that other people might miss – either in a player who everyone knows about but you see something other people don’t or in lower-level prospects. My favorite part of the job was scouting the back-of-the-draft prospects who might just get a summer-league invite. When Jeremy Lin was at Harvard, I mentioned that I felt he could be an NBA player and everyone sort of laughed at me. A lot of it was borderline racist too. Things like, ‘Yeah, an Asian is going to make it in the NBA…’ That pissed me off. I stood by it and said, ‘I think he’s good enough.’ Then, he played in summer league with the Dallas Mavericks and he did well. I enjoy looking at a guy like that and seeing something in them that other people missed.”
Scout No. 2: “I always feel like my opinion is valued. They don’t care what outsiders or other people are saying, they want to know what I think. There may be a player whom every team loves, but they’ll hear me out if I don’t like the player’s game – and vice versa. My input is valued. Or, at least, they do a good job of making me feel that my input is valued (laughs).”
Scout No. 4: “The best thing about the job is the relationships you build and the people you spend time with on the road.”
Former Scout: “You meet a lot of great people who have really interesting stories. I met a bunch of older college coaches who had so many amazing stories. You meet other front-office people or former players you never imagined you’d meet or get to know. You’d meet these handlers and player managers with fascinating stories too. Getting to know so many new people is definitely a great part of the job. I know not all scouts get to do this – the level of involvement is different from organization to organization – but I always enjoyed interviewing draft prospects too. I enjoyed the conversations. You get to know which players are really smart, fascinating, worldly and interesting. And, of course, you find out which players are the opposite.”
Scout No. 5: “If you love to travel, it’s great. Every scout has their favorite cities and favorite restaurants that they go to. We all share that information too – from hotel information to transportation tips to restaurant recommendations to good parking areas.”
Scout No. 4: “International scouting can be fun, but you have to understand what you’re getting into. It’s not like you’re going to be in Italy for seven days and enjoying yourself. You’re going to a bunch of cities, watching a bunch of games and filing a bunch of reports. Bringing your wife and having her hang out at the hotel while you’re working and then meeting up just isn’t feasible. And to make that kind of trip worth it, you need to go over there for 10-to-14 days and see as much basketball as possible. But it can be fun to travel the world.”
How much time is spent watching film?
Scout No. 2: “These days, there’s video of everything and there’s Synergy Sports, so we watch a ton of film. There are still times when you’re asked to watch a game in person, but there are times when you’re assigned to watch video of several different games in one day instead. That allows you to evaluate more players. If I’m assigned to watch a game, I watch it fully once, skim through it again afterward and then hone in on specific parts. There are times when I watch six-to-eight hours of film per day.”
Scout No. 3: “I go to a lot of games in person, but I still try to watch an hour or two of film every day. But I also spend a lot of time studying the Collective Bargaining Agreement, with all of its ins and outs.”
Scout No. 4: “I think you have to do a lot of both – seeing guys in person and watching film. It’s never a good idea to draft someone who you haven’t seen live because some guys look different in person than they do on film and there are a lot of things you can take away from seeing them in the game environment. But you also can’t base you opinion on a guy off of the one time you saw him since you could be catching him on a good day, a bad day or somewhere in between. To really do the job effectively, you have to see as many players in person as possible while also watching a ton of film.”
“In a month, there’s only a day or two when I’m not watching film. If it’s not a heavy travel day, I’m watching film for at least four hours. At least. And there’s always a game on in the background too. When I’m working out, talking on the phone or writing reports, I’ll have a game on. You sort of become addicted to watching film. If you see a guy and you like him, you’ll check on him throughout the year when you log in to Synergy. If there’s a guy you haven’t seen in awhile, you’ll check him out the next time you log in to Synergy. If a player has a good game, at the very least you’ll pull clips of his possessions and watch those.”
Scout No. 5: “Some scouts are film junkies who are always on Synergy, soaking up as many clips as humanly possible. Then, you have some scouts whose strength is watching a player in person and doing campus visits and evaluating the things that go on outside of the lines. Every scout is different when you look at their strengths, weaknesses and preferences.”
After games, scouts file out a report. What does that report entail?
Scout No. 1: “Every organization is different and they’re constantly changing. I remember one three-to-four-year period where our reports changed a bunch even over that short amount of time. I would write anything that I noticed. You’re obviously looking at a player’s skill set – what might translate to the NBA and what might not – but you’re also looking at body language, attitude and interactions. My reports were usually on the longer side; I’d write three-to-five pages when I was scouting a major player. But my GM and his staff preferred reports that were shorter, so I’d have to condense it down to little blurbs that would fit onto one page.”
Scout No. 2: “I have to describe what I like or don’t like about a player in a thorough but quick way. You’re writing about their talent – whether they can shoot, pass, defend – and then about their personality. When you’re at a game live, that’s when it’s best to evaluate a player’s body language. On video, it can be tough. If I’m at a game, I’m watching a player’s body language and demeanor. That stuff can be important. Basically, you’re writing how you feel about the player, his game, how he could be a potential fit in your organization and his timetable to produce.”
Scout No. 3: “The biggest transition I had to make from when I went from being a player to being a scout is the amount of time I spend in front of my computer. Now that I’m the one writing up reports, I definitely have more of an appreciation for the scouting reports that our coaches used to give us. It takes so much time. You can’t rush it or BS it, because your reputation is on the line. You’ll be held accountable for everything that you write. That’s why I’ll sometimes hold off on submitting a certain assessment or piece of info until I see the player again or talk to more sources.”
Scout No. 4: “There’s so much writing. People don’t realize that. The contents of the report really depend on your boss and what he wants to know. You’re writing about a player’s strengths, weaknesses, who they are today and who they could be down the road. A big part of the job is getting background information, and that goes into the reports too. You want to know as much as possible if you’re making a multi-million decision on a guy.”
Scout No. 5: “Aside from game reports, I also file intel reports. They are typically shorter and you send those as your receive new information. So if a player got in a fight with his teammate or got in trouble for missing curfew, you send over an intel report right away. It’s more character stuff and personality stuff.”
Which players were you wrong about?
Scout No. 1: “Klay Thompson. I basically said, ‘Hey, he’ll be a good shooter, but that’s it.’ And I scouted him multiple times in person when he was at Washington State, so it’s not like I didn’t see him. I just never predicted he’d be the two-way player he’s become. He could obviously shoot the ball; he had a great stroke. I just thought he’d be a good-shooting role player. I projected him to be similar to JJ Redick. Obviously, I was wrong about him.”
Scout No. 2: “One guy who has really surprised me is Nikola Jokic. I didn’t think he’d be able to develop and contribute so quickly. I remember when he was younger, he was good, but he wasn’t that good. I had some concerns about his defense too. I’ll put it this way: He’s not a guy who I would’ve selected in the first round. I wasn’t a big fan of his, but he’s exceeded all of my expectations.”
Scout No. 4: “I didn’t even think Isaiah Thomas was draftable. That was a big miss. Draymond Green was a big miss too. Every front office says, ‘Oh, Draymond Green was the next guy on our board.’ Well, that wasn’t the case for us (laughs). We totally missed on Draymond. I’d say Isaiah Thomas and Draymond Green are the two biggest misses we’ve had.”
Former Scout: “I was wrong about James Harden. I scouted the Northwest Division, so I watched him play a lot when he was on the Oklahoma City Thunder. I actually liked him and thought he’d be a nice player. I thought he had a nice skill set and I saw him as a Swiss-Army-knife player who did a lot of things well. But I never saw him becoming an MVP-caliber player. In that way, I consider Harden to be a miss for me.”
Scout No. 5: “Avery Bradley and Cory Joseph are two guys that I was never really sold on. I was wrong about them. I didn’t think they’d be this good. I thought Joseph would always be a fringe NBA player who was battling for a third point guard job; I didn’t see him being this strong of a backup. That’s a testament to the hard work he’s put in, San Antonio’s excellent player development staff and the additional work that Toronto’s staff has done with him. Bradley has exceeded all of my expectations and worked really hard too.”
“Gauging a player’s work ethic can be really tough as a scout. There are a lot of guys who are fake hard workers – they know the right things to say to see like a gym rat. It can be hard to weed out the actual hard workers from the fake ones. And what I consider hard work at the NBA level may be different from what a player or his coach considers hard work at the college level. The misses I immediately think of are the guys who were actually really hard workers and it’s showed.”
Do rival scouts get along?
Scout No. 1: “There’s a lot of camaraderie among scouts. I think being out on the road together so much has something to do with it. I also think there’s sort of this understanding that you may not be working for the same team long-term. Everyone is working hard for their current team – I’m not saying people are actively looking for other jobs – but everyone understands the lack of job security involved. If your organization has a bad year and they clean house, you’re looking for a job. In that event, you better have relationships with other people in order to find a new job. Relationships are so important.”
Scout No. 4: “We get along great, and you’re on the road so much that it becomes like a second set of co-workers, a second set of friends, a second family. We stay in touch with each other. We get coffee or dinner when we’re in each other’s city. It really is a fraternity.”
Former Scout: “Every now and then, you’ll see someone who has a personal vendetta against another front-office person because they got fired or they were treated a certain way or something like that. But it’s usually the owners that scouts or front-office people are frustrated with. I had some friends who were working for the Clippers when Donald Sterling was still the owner. After Mike Dunleavy was fired, they just didn’t pay the scouts. And, at that time, the Clippers didn’t pay their scouts well anyway. The scouts didn’t receive a huge chunk of their salary and they had to go to court to get their money from Sterling. Then, after paying the court fees, they lost a good portion of their salary. In that situation and other less notable examples, I definitely noticed scouts would rally around their peers. That’s when the competition goes out the window and you’re there for your brothers.”
Scout No. 5: “It’s definitely not contentious like the relationships between agents. We don’t bad-mouth or harm each other. I think every scout understands the difficulty of the job. Also, you’re sort of a mercenary, a hired gun, so there’s a chance that you’ll eventually work alongside some of the other scouts and front-office people you get to know. Plus, you’re crossing paths with these same people over and over again. It just doesn’t make sense to burn bridges.”
Scout No. 2: “I’m cordial with other scouts. But I will say this: If I’m at a game, I always try to see which other scouts are there and try to figure out who they’re scouting. That’s information that could be used, and we’re always looking for extra information that can give my organization an edge.”
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to become a scout?
Scout No. 1: “Whenever I get asked this question, I tell people, ‘Form relationships and form a lot of them.’ You obviously need to know about the game, bring something substantive to the table and be right more than you’re wrong as an evaluator, but relationships are the most important thing. You can know everything there is to know about scouting and basketball, but you’ll never make it into the NBA without relationships. And just know what you’re getting into. There are a lot of great things about the job and I know people who love it, but anyone who is thinking of starting out in this business should know about the travel and the toll it takes on families.”
Scout No. 2: “Make sure this is something that you’re passionate about. You aren’t going to love every part of the job, so make sure this is something you are passionate about to make this worth it. I would also tell them to try watching a game the way a scout would, focusing on one player – on and off the court – and try to write a report. See if you enjoy that kind of thing and how you do. Also, find a mentor who can help you and provide direction. Then, if you get a scouting job, work your ass off. I will never stop working hard, because I know that’s how I’ll get replaced. The hard work you do defines you.”
Scout No. 3: “Watch as much basketball as possible – and not just the superstars like LeBron James. You have to watch the little guys. The big stars will show what they can do and they’re hard to miss on. You need to be able to identify the little guys, the role players, who can make an impact and produce more than they’re expected to and provide great value where they’re picked. Watch a ton of basketball and read about the ins and outs of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
“Finally, the most important thing, is that you can’t judge a player solely from looking at their stats. Stats and analytics have a lot of value and can help you evaluate a player, but you need to go beyond that as well. Stats don’t always tell the whole story; maybe the player isn’t in the right system for him, maybe he’s not surrounded by the right players, maybe the coach isn’t utilizing him well. A player can have bad stats – and even look bad – but you need all of the information and you need to understand the situation.”
Scout No. 3: “The most important thing for a scout is their sources. A scout’s sources are what allow them to gather the intel that nobody else can get.”
Do you feel scouts are underappreciated?
Scout No. 1: “I don’t think scouts want a ton of attention. If you look at the lifers, the scouts who’ve been around for a long time, they want to remain under the radar. In my opinion, I always thought one of the best things about being a scout was that everyone sort of leaves you alone and you can focus on what you have to do. You never have to get in front of a camera. You never have to be held publicly accountable for things. At the end of the day, it’s sort of nice that I don’t make the final decisions. I can say, ‘It’s not my responsibility!’ All I have to do is write my reports and give my input, and then someone way above my pay grade makes all of the choices and deals with any consequences those decisions may bring. That’s a great part of the gig (laughs).”
“I think scouts are underappreciated or overlooked by fans at times, but not to the organizations. And I think a lot of scouts are perfectly fine with that. As long as the organization recognize their best scouts and pay them accordingly, they’re happy. A lot of times, they don’t want the attention from fans and the media. That’s a whole extra layer of stress.”
Scout No. 2: “The best scouts are the ones nobody knows. Most scouts try to stay out of the spotlight and not get that kind of attention. It’s part of the job – staying to the side and ceding the spotlight to others. We’re fine being the role players, who do what they can to help the ‘star’ of the front office. I think most scouts are okay with that, as long as they’re valued by their organization.”
Scout No. 4: “To me, it’s the most important of the organization. I’m biased, but scouting plays a huge role in important decisions. Everything is important and everyone plays a role, but at the end of the day, you need really good players to win and you need people who can identify those players.”
Scout No. 5: “I’ve met a lot of scouts who view themselves as life-time scouts. Like, if they had an opportunity to move up, they might even turn it down. There are some guys like that. It’s the guys who like the fact that they get to work on their own, they don’t have to live in their NBA city, they don’t have to show up in the office and they can set their own schedule. Guys who really like their independence thrive as scouts and may want to stay in that position.”
“I will say that there are times when scouts are treated poorly by certain schools when it comes to our seat placement. Some programs will put us up in the rafters, in the corner of the arena, and that makes it much harder to do my job. Those schools hurt themselves because you’ll typically go to less of their games or only see them on the road.”
Which NBA organizations are the best in terms of scouting?
Scout No. 1: “The San Antonio Spurs are amazing in terms of scouting. They have continuity and they do a terrific job of hiring the right people. They’re just a tremendous organization. The Oklahoma City Thunder do a great job of scouting too. But Sam Presti came from the Spurs, so that’s another nod to San Antonio being great. With Presti and the Thunder, though, it’s hard to argue against a team that drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Those two teams stand out to me.”
Scout No. 2: “The Spurs are the best out there. Every team looks at what they’ve done and is trying to duplicate their success at an organizational level. They have people everywhere. They are the CIA of basketball. Since I started this job, it feels like two out of every three people I meet are either with the Spurs or have some connection to the Spurs. If you look at the majority of the big teams in Europe, they have an assistant from that team feeding them information – officially or unofficially. And to be clear, I’m not saying they’re paying these guys or cheating, they just reach out to them and put the work in and it pays off. If you’re at an international game, the Spurs are everywhere you look – talking to the GM of each team, talking to the commentators, talking to former players who are around, talking to anyone with information. They have created this amazing network because they’ve done this for the last 10 years. Most of the teams are just now catching up to them. San Antonio is the best when it comes to scouting because they’re really knowledgeable, they know what they’re doing and they have people everywhere. They’re the example that everyone is trying to follow.”
Scout No. 3: “The Spurs are great internationally. They were one of the first teams to put real effort and resources into international scouting and it obviously paid off. Their main scout is Italian. The Thunder have a really good international scouting program. The Denver Nuggets have gotten a lot better internationally over the last few years; they’ve picked very well. The New York Knicks have one of the best scouts, Kevin Wilson, but I don’t know how much they listen to him. More and more teams are putting the necessary resources into scouting internationally.”
Scout No. 4: “I think, in recent years, the Golden State Warriors have been the best when it comes to scouting. I mean, they built one of the best teams in NBA history and did it largely through value picks in the draft: Steph Curry (No. 7 overall), Klay Thompson (11th overall) and Draymond Green (35th overall). The Spurs, Heat, Pacers, Bulls and Bucks have been really good too. Those teams are really good at finding value players.”