Now, 11 months later, Nelson is the newly-minted Assistant General Manager of the Blue Coats. He will also serve as a 76ers scout. “I hope I didn’t say too many bad things,” Nelson said with a laugh. Nelson is not far removed from his own playing days. He last suited up in an NBA game in the spring of 2018. The 38-year-old Chester, PA native and former National Player of the Year at Saint Joseph’s University holds 14 seasons’ worth of NBA playing experience. In 878 career games, the bulk of which were played with the Orlando Magic, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.1 assists.
Tom Moore: #Sixers VP of scouting Vince Rozman on collaborate process in two weeks since Daryl Morey’s arrival: ‘It’s been great. There’s not a newness. It seems like we’ve been in the room together for years.’
The 1991 Usenet Mock Draft was the first mock draft published on the internet, but it, too, followed a lineage. The mock draft had been popularized in the ’80s through pioneering NFL draft writers like Mel Kiper Jr. and Joel Buchsbaum, and national publications like The National soon thereafter adopted the format amid its growing popularity. Usenet, however, offered something novel: a globalized scouting department consisting of ball-obsessed engineering students and computer science researchers with eyes on the ground, watching local NCAA games not broadcast on ESPN. “Mock drafts existed,” Merzbacher said. “We just crowdsourced it.”
Kobe Bryant was already a star by 1996, but his national profile took a bit of time to catch up. The buzz of his potential leap from high school directly to the NBA was baffling at the time; his performance at the McDonald’s All American Game in late March—the only real look most casual fans were able to catch of Bryant’s talent—was unremarkable. He looked like a boy unfit for a league of men, without the advantage of supreme size that allowed Kevin Garnett to make a stunning prep-to-pro transition one year earlier. Simpson sent the first round of callouts for 1996 Usenet draft scouting reports back in April, more than two months before the draft; it wasn’t until the fourth callout in May that Kobe even showed up as a prospect to be written about. A random scouting report landed in Simpson’s inbox weeks later. It painted as clear a profile of Kobe as one could expect on the early web, with descriptors we now know to be foundational to his legacy as a player: intelligence, determination, idolatry at the altar of Jordan. It was penned by someone who’d played local high school and summer games against the future legend. “That was not common,” Simpson said.
LaMelo Ball looks to make noise as one of the top-five picks in the NBA Draft this year. While some have him going top-three, the narrative on LaMelo is changing. After a string of reports on LaMelo not impressing in pre-draft interviews, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has commented on the uncertainty. “I had a phone call earlier today with somebody who works in the league for a team, and he and I talked a lot about LaMelo. There are a lot of people who wonder if he could fall outside the top five. Rick Bonnell, a Hornets writer, reported today that he hadn’t done well in interviews. I’m not sure what to make of that report, but I’ve heard similar that he hasn’t done great in these interviews and workouts and all that.”
He added, “So, LaMelo, as talented as he is, some teams are looking at this situation as ‘Maybe it’s best to hit a single or hit a double rather than swing for the fences and possibly whiff.’ And with LaMelo, there’s that threat for him more than there is for some other guys in that top-10 conversation. With LaMelo, it would not shock me and it should shock nobody if he goes one, or he goes eight. It could happen with him.”