NBA Scouts, Or Rivals Message Board Posters? You Make The Call

Tonight is the NBA Draft, and while there won't be any Northwestern players selected for the twelfth consecutive year, I'm still excited about it because the NBA Draft is by far the best draft of the year (in large part because Mel Kiper Jr. isn't involved).

To get ready, I've traveled to the darkest corners of the interwebs for analysis, and read up on such absurdities as Bismack Biyombo's growth plates, Enes Kanter Sr.'s guarantees, and Venoy Overton's pimp hand. In the course of my travels, I've read a lot of great analysis (anything on DraftExpress.com) and a lot of horrendous analysis as well. Now most of the nonsense has been from predictable places like Bleacher Report, but it was rather surprising to read SI.com yesterday and see terrible insight from anonymous NBA scouts.

Seth Davis had an article yesterday where he interviewed six NBA scouts and one NBA coach about various prospects, then posted their quotes anonymously. Should be a goldmine of information, right? Wrong. Some of this stuff is so bad it honestly makes me wonder if Davis spent his time quoting random people off the street. Let's take a look:

"Jimmer Fredette, 6-3 senior guard, BYU. I saw him work out and he shot the ball very well. He's a little Steve Nash. People try to find a way to say he's not going to make it and find flaws. They compare him to J.J. Redick, but he can handle the ball so much better and can get his own shot. If he goes to the right team, people are going to say, "Wow, I can't believe we passed on him." He's a rich man's Dan Dickau."

This scout compares Jimmer to three other NBA players. What do these players have in common? They're all white, like Jimmer, and that's basically it. The Steve Nash comparison in particular is laughably bad, one's a pass first point guard and the other's a shoot first gunner. You'd expect casual fans or hack writers to only compare white guys to other white guys, but someone making a living analyzing a player's potential talents should be able to look past skin color.


"JaJuan Johnson, 6-10 senior forward, Purdue. I don't know why people don't have him higher on their list. He reminds me of Harvey Grant."

This here is the dictionary definition of "damning with faint praise". JaJuan Johnson is currently projected to be drafted early in the second round, and this scout believes Johnson should move up the draft boards, because who could pass on the next Harvey Grant in the first round?

For those who don't remember the NBA career of Harvey Grant (which is probably most of you), he averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds per game while playing most of his career on terrible Washington Bullets teams. Sounds like the steal of the draft!

"Enes Kanter, 6-11 freshman center, Kentucky. ....He's quiet. I think he uses the language barrier as a bit of a crutch; he understands English most of the time."

A guy who was granted admission to a major college in the United States understands English most of the time, you're kidding. I assume this whole "language barrier as a crutch" thing stems from Kanter not wanting to conduct interviews in English, and Kanter's reasoning is likely that English is his second language and he doesn't want to misspeak to a potential employer and hurt his draft stock. Makes perfect sense to me. In my mind's eye I'm picturing Kanter as an Atlantic Light worker and this NBA scout as Lester Freamon, badgering poor Enes for his refusal to cooperate:




"Kawhi Leonard, 6-7 sophomore forward, San Diego State. .... Leonard's shooting is a huge concern because at the end of the day when the ball gets swung to the corner, you have to make open shots. Yes, he's a great athlete, but those guys tend to do better in track and field. The last time I checked, that scoreboard keeps track of points"

Aside from the dozens of counterexamples of players who were great athletes but bad shooters who succeeded in the NBA (Ben Wallace, Tony Allen, etc.), the last two sentences are cringe-worthy. Does that kind of debate really go on in NBA Draft rooms?

GM: So what have you scouts seen on Kawhi Leonard?
Scout 1: Well, he's long, he works very hard to improve himself, and he led San Diego State by far the best season in school history. Needs to work on his shooting though.
Scout 2: Wait, "he needs to work on his shooting"? THE WHOLE POINT OF BASKETBALL IS TO SCORE MORE THAN THE OTHER TEAM!
GM: Stop yelling.
Scout 2: NO! WE NEED SOMEONE WHO CAN SHOOT! DON'T YOU REALIZE THE SCOREBOARD KEEPS TRACK OF POINTS?
GM: My god, he's right! Someone call the Cavs, let's try to trade up to number one and draft Jon Diebler.

"Demetri McCamey, 6-3 senior guard, Illinois. We had him in for a workout and you have to love a few of things about him. He has a great build, his body is terrific and he seems to play with some toughness. I liked him more last season. I have no idea what happened to their team at Illinois. We heard the coaches thought he was playing for the NBA instead of the team. If you expect him to be Deron Williams, you're asking too much."

You sure we're talking about the same Demetri McCamey? The McCamey I know was criticized for his poor conditioning, couldn't even do one rep of 185 pounds on the bench press at the draft combine, and folded like origami late in games last year. And no, anonymous NBA scout, I'm not expecting him to be Deron Williams, who was the best player on a team that was #1 the entire season and went to the national title game and has gone on to make the All-Star team multiple teams. McCamey and Williams are about the same height and skin tone though, so I can see why you needed to clear that up.

"Darius Morris, 6-5 sophomore guard, Michigan. Shoot, he's not bad at all. In my mind, he's better than Nolan Smith or Shelvin Mack. He's just starting to get into his game. He has to work on his shooting, but he's a point guard who can really set guys up. Good size, good basketball IQ. In that system at Michigan, you didn't get to see a whole lot of facilitating, but he's still pretty good."

Darius Morris was first in the Big Ten and fifth nationally in assists per game. Imagine if he'd played in a system that allowed him to facilitate! The rest of this one is, shockingly enough, pretty reasonable.

"Chris Singleton, 6-9 junior forward, Florida State. I compare him to James Posey. His strength is he can guard multiple positions. He has some toughness to him, too. He has to be on a really good offensive team because at best he's going to be a six- to eight-point-a-game player. He doesn't have an offensive arsenal. If you can't score in this league, you better be on a really good team."

Hey scout guy: James Posey has an offensive arsenal. He hit clutch three after clutch three in the playoffs for the 2008 NBA champion Celtics and has been an excellent role player for most of his NBA career. This comparison sucks.

"Nolan Smith, 6-4 senior guard, Duke. I don't like him as much as Shelvin Mack or Malcolm Lee. I don't see how he gets much better than he is right now. After watching him play this year, I never saw him get by guys and beat them off the dribble. He doesn't have that extra gear. Some people love him. I get in arguments in our own draft room. They say I'm crazy, but I just don't think he's good enough. People compare Nolan to Mario Chalmers, but Chalmers is a much better shooter. I'd rather have someone like that than someone who's a phenomenal athlete and can't shoot a lick."

Of all the bizarre profiles so far, this one might be the craziest. This scout tells us that Nolan Smith can't beat college players off the dribble and can't shoot a lick. Then how, pray tell, did Nolan Smith lead the goddamn ACC in scoring at over 20 points per game? Was he just constantly wide open under the basket for lay-ups? Did he need 40 shots per game to get his 20 points (no, he had a 50.8% eFG% on extremely high 30% possession usage)? Maybe he sold his soul to a red woman from Asshai, who birthed shadows to kill opposing defenders. All hail R'hllor!

"Klay Thompson, 6-7 junior guard, Washington State. People say he's a little soft, but the kid has worked on his handle. He's going to get open in our league and he's the best shooter in the draft."

The best shooter in the draft? Is this the Isiah Thomas draft board?

"Nikola Vucevic, 7-foot junior center, USC. ....His college coach, Kevin O'Neill, really likes him, and K.O. doesn't like anybody."

Oh, well if K.O. likes him, then he has to be a good player. It's probably because Vucevic brought him some vintage Montenegran booze, since we all know K.O. cares more about getting hammered than coaching his team.

"Kemba Walker, 6-1 junior point guard, UConn. ...I see him as a point guard, and that's the problem: When your point guard is leading you in shot attempts, you wonder if he's Allen Iverson or Brandon Jennings. Those aren't winning point guards; they're just small guards who can score."

Kemba Walker, best player on the team that just won the national championship: not a winner. Derrick Rose, MVP of the NBA last year, led the Bulls in shot attempts as a point guard: not a winner. Allen Iverson, former MVP of the NBA, future Hall of Famer, carried an otherwise crappy 76er team to the NBA Finals: not a winner.

Yep, these are your NBA scouts.

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