Inside The Draft: How NBA Teams Scout and Select Future Stars

Algirdas Janilionis

Statistics show that less than 30% of college basketball players are actually drafted to the NBA. It’s a dream that a lot of players have, but a wish not often granted. Don’t give up hope though! Algirdas Janilionis provides a behind-the-scenes look at the NBA draft, including scouting, evaluations, and some of the decision-making strategies that are used by coaches and the team.

Scouting Process

The actual scouting process for the NBA involves a lot of time and energy, which is why it’s important to make a good impression when scouts make an appearance. Some of the ways these recruiters will look out for potential NBA players is:

  • Attending games: one of the easiest ways for scouts to get a better understanding of a player is to attend an actual game. Some universities will pay for scouts to come out and other times, they will check out a game on their own if they’ve heard good things about the team or a specific player.
  • Watching videos of players: similar to attending games, scouts can also watch videos of games or a video “resume” of a player’s best plays. This is helpful because it doesn’t require any travel and the scout can later decide if an in-person visit is worthwhile.
  • Conducting interviews: recruiters will also sometimes reach out to an individual to do a one-on-one interview. This gives them a better sense of the overall person someone is because they can interact with them and see what their personality is like. Someone’s game face may be very different than their everyday face.
  • Analyzing data: there is a Data Analytics program that NBA scouts will use and they are constantly reading and analyzing it. This helps them to compare stats and see which players are standouts among their peers.

If a player knows that a scout is coming or wants to connect, that’s an excellent first step towards being chosen for an NBA draft.

Player Evaluations

Player evaluations go together with the scouting process. It involves recruiters combing through lots of data about individual players. There are some things that they’ll be looking at:

  • net points
  • assist percentage
  • adjusted player efficiency rating (APER)
  • personal foul efficiency
  • true shooting percentage (TS%)
  • win score
  • turnover ratios
  • steal percentage

These are just some of the stats that are on player evaluations, but there are many more. Scouts are looking to gain an overall understanding of a player so information like this is integral to the drafting process.

Algirdas Janilionis

Team and Coach Strategies

There are some decision-making strategies that NBA teams and coaches use during the draft. They’ll use player evaluations and compare that with team evaluation and team roster construction. This is basically the idea of how well a player will mesh with the overall team and whether it would make sense to have this person as the roster is being built.

Basketball requires teamwork and while it’s important to have strong individual players, ultimately coaches want the team to work well together. It doesn’t make sense to have a strong player who is constantly messing up the rest of their team’s strategies because they can’t work together.

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