The Brooklyn Nets have named Gianluca Pascucci as director of global scouting and BJ Johnson as coordinator of player evaluation. “We are thrilled to add Gianluca and BJ to our front office,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “Collectively, they bring valuable experiences that cross many platforms and their extensive knowledge of both the NBA and the global game will be tremendous assets to our scouting department. Both will be excellent additions to our culture and we are excited about welcoming them to Brooklyn.”
Every team had advanced scouts who’d dutifully jot down the plays that the next opponent was running, but few, if any, had pro personnel departments dedicated to gathering every last tidbit of information about NBA veterans they might acquire via trade or sign as free agents. Now, most teams have numerous people doing this dirty but necessary work. The proliferation of pro scouting came at a time when less information about college players was available than ever before, as players stayed in school for at most one or two years. The draft was becoming a much riskier way to build your team. With this trend came the realization that the financial investment in draft picks was minimal compared to a big-ticket free-agent signing or franchise-shaping trade, either of which could make or break your franchise.
Scouts and personnel men quickly learned that the real scoop would come from ball boys, equipment guys, teammates, various members of a player’s entourage and even other scouts. (In case you’re wondering, yes, media reporting on the NBA has evolved in much the same way.) “All the GMs have their guys out there, and their job is to go get information,” said another person who is an executive with a team. “It’s really extreme, but it’s what is going on right now. That is the norm, it has to be done, and every team does it.”
In short, people get fired over these decisions. So no longer is it enough to report back on a player’s post moves on the left block or the range on his jump shot; anyone can watch those things at the office or on an iPad. When writing a report for your GM, you need to tell him what kind of teammate the player is … whether he is high maintenance … what his family situation and other relationships are like … and yes, whether he is a “locker room lawyer,” a term that is often included in scouting reports about players, whether they are black, white, Asian, European or otherwise.