There’s a video on every potential NBA project, from college to the G League to Lithuania’s professional second division.
“The movie is really useful,” Milwaukee Bucks Vice President of World Scouting Ryan Hoovtold told TODAY Sports between the glare of the NBA championship and the reality of another project and free agency.
But there’s also incalculable value to NBA scouts and executives seeing players in person. During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on travel and personal events have made this firm, especially for international Scouts.
“There’s nothing like seeing men for themselves,” Hoover said. “You can watch as many movies as you want, but to see a guy live, that’s just a distinct level. Being in a game three hours prior it starts and watching him walk the floor, interact with his teammates, how he focuses prior a game. Is Does he take it seriously Does he move around Does his teammates love him Is he catchable How is his spirit and energy and vitality It all matters.
“The element of the human element and who he is as a person is significant. You can see a lot.”
NBA Draft Thursday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) and the free agency opens on Monday at 6 p.m. ET.
Hoover and the NBA fore office staff found out where they could – mainly in the South, Southwest, Great Plains, and Midwest where some in-person attendance was allowed.
Bucks consulted with human resources and told scouts and executives that they were not required to travel, and some did not.
“We didn’t make anything required,” he said. “If you feel comfortable, travel. If you don’t, distinguished. We understand.”
Hoover spent much of the college basketball season in Texas, Florida, Indiana, and Wisconsin. There were matches that Hoover noticed and perhaps two or three other scouts were in attendance. Several NBA executives put thousands of miles on cars, traveling from college town to college town.
With all the advanced data, videos, and stats available, basketball operations staff still want that personalized experience.
“I feel bad for players being evaluated because they lack that extra layer that scouts love — when they watch a player in training and in games and see them interact,” said Tommy Shepard, general manager of the Washington Wizards. “It gives you a much better perspective on someone. They are explored and evaluated but to get the packed picture it will be more firm than ever this year just because you can’t participate in most games. This is just another example of why your network is significant and how dependent you are on sourcing and your contacts to get a clear picture of the potential customer.”
Conference tournaments and an NCAA tournament played at singles locations helped the Scouts attend games late in the season.
The project to bring together scouts and executives also provided the opportunity to witness players and conduct interviews in person. The teams were competent to host the players in their facilities.
Scouting international players presented an even greater challenge. Hoover said he travels to Europe about 3-4 times a season and other Bucks employees take overseas trips, including John Hurst, Milt Newton and Dave Babcock. But due to COVID, Scouts in the United States have not been allowed to travel for most of the international season.
It’s not a big draft year for international players. Only two international players who did not play in the United States final season are first-round picks in the USA TODAY draft.
But the international talent in the NBA is still going powerful. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokonmo, Dallas’s Luka Doncic and Utah’s Rudy Gobert were the NBA’s 2020-21 picks, and in the 2020 draft, nine players from or related to Nigeria were drafted. At fewest two international players have been drafted into the top ten in each of the final eight drafts.
The Bucks, like most teams, have European scouts who participate in the player’s Zoom calls twice a week.
“We are very fortunate to have two really pleasing people on pleasing contact,” Hoover said. “The amount of information they collect, the amount of clarity and the aptitude to paint the picture as clearly as conceivable is very impressive. We depend on them. Was the stench not competent to go there three or four times? But at the alike time, our men did not skip Anyway. We’re all set. We know these players inside and out and feel pleasing about that.”