Scouting Rumors

Gansey’s short-term plan is to scout players from afar with the hope he and the Pacers can reach an agreement for next season, a conversation that may not happen until after the NBA playoffs in October. “I can look at some other G League players and players who were on (two-way contracts) this year,” Gansey said. “You know, there are guys who have played overseas and I can do some scouting on some of these college guys and guys who are going to enter the draft here pretty soon.”
Down the stretch, one talent evaluator thought Wood played at an All-Star level. But another team executive cautioned, “He’s been with five teams — he’s not a slam dunk.’’ The Knicks are looking for a power forward who can shoot from mid-range and the 3-point line with the likely departure of Bobby Portis. Wood shot 56.7 percent from the field — and 38.6 from 3. Wood earned $1.6 million this season. Even with the major salary-cap reduction, Wood could earn five, six times that next season. However be warned: The intel coming out of UNLV in 2015 was not stellar, according to sources.
Storyline: Christian Wood Free Agency
The Athletic’s James Edwards III, a beat writer for the Pistons, sat down with an NBA scout on Monday to discuss the prospects of the 2020 NBA Draft for Detroit. With a franchise’s glaring hole at the point guard position, the two discussed the point guards in the draft. When asked which point guard has the most star potential, the scout centered on Ball and when asked for his reasoning on it, he had the following to say: “I think he’ll be the best of the group. His size, vision, feel and instincts just add up to him being a pretty good player. Obviously, people have concerns about his shooting, but I think it’ll come around. I think he’ll be fine. I think he loves the game. He was pretty impressive down in Australia.”
With those five names in mind, I reached out to an NBA scout who specializes in college scouting. I asked him more than a handful of questions pertaining to the Pistons’ situation and this year’s crop of point-guard prospects. For each question, he was asked to pick which point guard would check a particular box. Some questions had more than one answer. In the end, it was pretty obvious who the scout felt reigned supreme among this group, but he did offer up insight that will give Pistons fans hopes in Plan B and C scenarios. Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way: Detroit needs a star for the future. Of these five point guards, who has the most star potential? NBA scout: It’s LaMelo, for sure, if it all hits right for him.
Game on the line, and you need a bucket. Who is that guy, once they get to the NBA and get acclimated, you think will thrive in that situation? NBA scout: I’d go with LaMelo. He’s ballsy. The thing with him, when he sees defenses are blitzing him, he’s going to find the open guy. He’s 6-foot-7, so he’s going to see over the top of defenses. Killian is a good passer, too, but I don’t think he’s LaMelo. Game on the line, long-term, if he becomes what I think he can be, it’s LaMelo. Again, that’s if the shot comes around like I think it will and he grows even more as a facilitator.
NBA scout: The player Casey would fall in love with? Yeah. NBA scout: Haliburton, for sure. I think he just plays the game the right way. He can play on and off the ball, can make a shot, and he can really pass. Defensively, he’s versatile. He’s a great kid. Anything you hear out of Iowa State is glowing about him. He wasn’t even a ranked guy coming out of Wisconsin, and then he just blew up as a freshman and became a lottery pick as a sophomore.
The Knicks have hired New Orleans Pelicans scout Alex Kline, a high-ranking team source told SNY. Kline, 26, has been a scout with New Orleans for the past four seasons, with a focus on college scouting. The Athletic reported that Kline will work under Knicks assistant GM Walt Perrin, who will be responsible for college scouting. Kline is well-respected by team personnel from across the league.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
During his time with the Washington Bullets, Krause found Earl Monroe at Division II Winston-Salem State and Jerry Sloan at Division II Evansville. That Krause found Monroe is considered his origin story, but Jordan didn’t buy it—after all, the Bullets took Monroe second in 1967, and MJ thought a player drafted second couldn’t really be a secret. If Krause didn’t scout Monroe, “someone would have found him at no. 3 or no. 4,” Jordan said. Krause’s passion for small-school talent was evident in his first year as Bulls GM, as he took Charles Oakley out of Division II Virginia Union with the ninth pick in the 1985 draft.
Holding lottery odds that likely will yield a top-5 pick in the NBA draft, the Warriors are doing their due diligence on all of 2020’s best prospects. With the Warriors not having a playoff run in store for the first time in Steve Kerr’s tenure, the head coach was scheduled to travel to Europe to scout first-round talents Killian Hayes and Theo Maledon, according to The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss on the “Light Years” podcast.
“By definition, if you’re in management or you’re in scouting, a good percentage of your job is remote work, is video work, it’s database work, whether it be the scouting database or the statistical database,” Lindsey said. “We’ve had an opportunity to shift those percentages and using technology to a greater degree versus the in-person scouting and hopefully we can tip a few of the odds in our favor relative to the draft and free agency moving forward.”
Take this exercise. The Athletic spoke with numerous NBA scouts about the strengths and weaknesses of Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder’s 21-year-old point guard who was the centerpiece of the Paul George trade. More than 30 minutes into one conversation, a Western Conference scout mentioned that Gilgeous-Alexander was in an ideal situation as the second or third option on the Thunder. The scout was shocked when informed that Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunder’s leading scorer. “He’s the leading scorer for a playoff team and you look at him as a third option scoring-wise?” the scout asked rhetorically.
Despite those silky moves, Gilgeous-Alexander can still improve at scoring at the rim. He shot just 41-of-100 (41 percent) on drives to the basket off a pick, per Synergy, with the Thunder scoring only 101 points on 114 possessions (0.886 per possession), a mark that was “below average.” The scouts polled think Gilgeous-Alexander will get stronger with age, which will help not just his finishing at the rim, but his ability to successfully win one-on-one battles against bigger perimeter defenders.
Eastern Conference scout: He’s on the right path. I think he’s been fortunate to be drafted by a great to very good organization in the league – the Clippers, and Doc (Rivers), the owner. Their organization seems to be able to foster young talent with their vets, an experienced coach … and their ownership and their front office seem to be in line. He got very good tutelage early, then he was fortunate enough to be traded to OKC and then have CP3 there. The soil is great and there’s a great route for him to grow the right way and establish a foundation.
After that, opinions were more varied, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, who quoted anonymous NBA executives on the other four Wildcats. By far the most negative opinion came on EJ Montgomery, who surprised many by announcing that he wouldn’t just test the waters, but would keep his name in for the NBA Draft after averaging just 6.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. “We don’t even have him in our Top 100,” an NBA executive said. “I have no clue what he’s thinking.”
Though NBA teams became aware of Avdija as a 16-year-old, it was after his performance in the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship, where he led Israel to the gold medal and was named tournament MVP, that they intensified their interest. In 2018-19, it was mostly NBA scouts crossing the Atlantic to observe Avdija. In 2019-20, those trips were upgraded, as a procession of general managers took seats in mostly smallish gyms. The Warriors, according to multiple league sources, were among those taking a long look.
The Wizards did their due diligence on Ball this season, sending multiple people to Australia to scout him in-person as well as hiring a scout based full-time in the area, NBC Sports Washington was told. With Ball and also R.J. Hampton in that region, the NBA scouting map has expanded and the Wizards had good timing with their front office overhaul last summer. They beefed up their international scouting capabilities and were prepared for covering more ground across the globe.
I’m guessing that much of the perception difference between the two is that Achiuwa is a one-and-done and Reed is a junior. Reed, indeed, is older than Achiuwa … by three whole months. They both will be 21 on opening night. The biggest “difference” between the two is an insignificant one. Meanwhile, let’s talk about defense, since that’s the main selling point of each. Achiuwa is indeed quite good at this end. But Reed is a freaking beast. I don’t think you need to devour tape 24/7 to conclude that Reed is a superior defender; though both players can harass guards effectively with their long arms and lateral quickness, Reed is the better of the two and his fast hands are a game-changer. The numbers back it up too: He had the highest steal rate of any significant draft prospect at any position, despite playing inside on a terrible team that rarely left him in position to succeed.
So why is he not seen as a lottery pick? Lewis does have some minor warts that keep him out of the truly elite group. His passing is more “adequate” than “special,” and his slight build could be a problem. You’d maybe like to see a bit more of a blow-by gear in the half court, too; Lewis has great straight-line speed but glides into his first step at times. That said … he’s a young point guard with size, shooting and some pop as a leaper. He’s blazing fast in transition, has a secure handle, generates a ton of space on step-backs, can make reads in pick and roll, and is more than capable of guarding the position. Statistically, his markers were all hugely positive (high rates of steals and blocks, good shooting) and the tape backs it up.
Gar Forman is expected to pursue scouting opportunities with other teams. Sources said the Bulls planned to offer some form of settlement on the two remaining years on Forman’s contract. Though Forman sometimes rankled some agents and executives with his secretive ways, he has developed a leaguewide reputation as an elite talent evaluator. Drafting Jimmy Butler at No. 30 and Taj Gibson at No. 26 are concrete examples of this.
“The in-person workouts and the combine and all of that type of stuff looks like it will be significantly impacted by COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that the work stops,” Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said. “Our scouts are doing tons of film study. I’m doing tons of synergy, watching, studying guys overseas, studying guys here, and that work has to continue. We have to be as well-prepared as we can for when the draft occurs.”
“We’ve never spent more time — as a group — on the draft as we have this year,” Lacob said. “Obviously, we have a lot more time to do it. I have watched video probably of all the top players. I’ve watched interviews, I’ve watched high school highlights, AAU highlights. We had a Zoom call the other day where I think we had 17 people on that call talking about the draft and how we’re approaching it and what the next steps are. We’ve got no excuse in terms of not having enough time.”

Pistons scout Maury Hanks released from hospital

After battling the coronavirus for nine days on a ventilator inside the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, beloved Detroit Pistons scout Maury Hanks has been released from the hospital and is resting comfortably at home, CBS Sports confirmed on Saturday.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 3007 more rumors
“You never know what someone can hear,” Susan told CBS Sports. “I know [Maury’s] worked in the basketball business a long time, but I really had no idea how many friends that we have,” Susan said. “The number of people that have been reaching out is honestly mind-blowing. If he makes it through this, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to thank everyone that has called and checked up on him. It’s just been unbelievable. The NBA family has shown up for Maury like I never could’ve imagined.”
There may not be opportunities for individual workouts with teams ahead of the draft. The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a haven for middling prospects, has been canceled; the combine, where many of the top players are evaluated, remains in limbo. Teams will have to find different ways to do pre-draft assessments. “The whole league is watching video,” Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski told The Detroit News. “We’ve seen some (of the top prospects). Everyone has a bank of information on players, so we’re all in the same boat.”
They remember Detroit Pistons scout Maury Hanks falling through the attic floor of his house, crashing into a bedroom and fracturing his back. They remember him leaving a college scouting assignment in Charlotte, North Carolina, a driver running a stop sign and T-boning his car. Through it all, the NBA’s scouting fraternity remembers a cantankerous, caustic Maury Hanks walking back into the gymnasium, voice booming, busting chops and chasing stardust. “The ultimate survivor,” said longtime friend Scott Howard, a scout with the Denver Nuggets.
Storyline: Coronavirus Positives
Susan happened to be watching that game. She recognized Maury from their time together at Clemson decades ago: he as an assistant coach; she as an undergraduate. She called the Nets’ offices and asked for a way to reach him. The rest is a love story that only basketball could tell. Over the past two days, Pistons GM Ed Stefanski has been sending Susan’s updates to a text chain of team executives, coaches and old co-workers. Those have been encouraging, especially given how dire things appeared mere days ago.
It was late February and Larry Harris, Warriors assistant general manager and director of player personnel, was wrapping up a two-week trip through three European countries with assistant GM Mike Dunleavy Jr. when he read that the coronavirus had spread to Northern Italy. “We had heard about the coronavirus, that it was already (in China), so we were talking about it, but it hadn’t hit the actual countries we were in,” Harris, told Bay Area News Group in a phone interview Friday. “We had just gotten back (to the United States) within the week. Then we were heading to go see these conference tournaments.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
Without the combine, however, front offices across the league will be forced to rely on reporting from colleges and agents, which can at times be insubstantial. “The biggest concern would be the medical testing portion, which is vital.” Harris said. “The other stuff we can navigate through conversations and in film work and all that. It’s nice to be able to have our hands on these players now that they’ve been out of college for two or three months.”
They will be making their pick with little information compared to teams at the top of past drafts, but assert they have enough to make a quality selection. “I’m confident that not only are we going to get the right guy,” Harris said. “But we’re going to have enough information and video work to be able to make that determination.”
With the Warriors bound for the top of the lottery, perhaps even the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Harris was eager to follow the script of many of his fellow NBA directors of player personnel at this time of the year: Scour the globe in search of elite new talent. Instead, with most of the sports world going dark due to a global pandemic, Harris is home in greater Dallas studying video on his TV or his computer screen. Travel stops, but research continues. “Everybody’s got certain players that they’re going out and getting information on,” Harris said Friday in a phone interview. “We have a lot of coaches and other contacts, so there are a lot of phone conversations. This gives us even more of a chance. We haven’t had the luxury of doing so much work ahead of the draft over the last five years. But now we’ve got hours and hours of film to watch.”
Whereas the Warriors in recent years often tried to find immediate part-time contributors — a euphemism for depth — they’re also open to drafting those with little experience beyond high school. “Yes, we’ll try to find someone who can come in play right away,” Harris said. “But we also know that when you’re picking this high, a lot of guys are 18, 19, 20 years old. To expect them to come in and be contributors right away, we’re not so naïve to think it won’t take time. “But we feel there are some players in this draft, up high, that have the ability to come in and play some minutes. We don’t necessarily need a position. We just need a player, anywhere from one to five.”
Four decades’ worth of NBA memorabilia fill his office, telling the story of McKinney’s seven years as a journeyman point guard and 33 seasons as a front-office executive. These days, though, the 64-year-old has more important things to talk about. Two years ago, McKinney left the NBA behind. The man who once scouted an NAIA player named Scottie Pippen and who served as the first general manager in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves is now mayor of his small hometown. “There’s two things I said I’d never do in life,” McKinney says. “I’d never get into politics, and I’d never move back to Zion. And look where I am.”
The NBA appears to have solved the situation in its own game by essentially leading teams by the nose toward the information it seeks. “We have to give our next two opponents courtside seats to make sure they can hear our (play) calls,” said an executive from one club. “And then every team has access to the Camera 1 view (showing the entire court) of every game. About the only thing I think would be illegal is if someone placed a microphone in our huddle,” he added with a laugh.
And according to Vincent’s agent, Bill Neff, the reason was simple: “We picked Miami because they are the best at it,” Neff said of player development. “They’re the gold standard. I don’t see how you can turn down Miami considering the pipeline, the amount of attention — starting at the top with Pat Riley, [general manager] Andy Elisburg, and most of all [vice president/basketball operations] Adam Simon — that they have shown with this kind of player. All things being equal, I pick Miami, because they will be the best at it, them and Toronto. “When Miami shows interest, you listen and they were the first one to show interest. It gets your attention. Great system. They train their coaches. I had Briante Weber there. If I could pick any place for a G-League guy to go, it would be Miami.”
Storyline: Heat Front Office
So why was Vincent overlooked the past two years, going undrafted out of UC-Santa Barbara and not landing with an NBA team in summer league or preseason in 2019? “People didn’t know,” Neff said, while noting a torn ACL his junior year of college hurt his stock coming out. “Even though he had a good World Cup [for Nigeria last summer], people didn’t pay attention. “There are very few organizations scouting like the Heat are. If you have your mind only on your players, you don’t see others. Adam sees his own players but isn’t overlooking others.
Nunn, a shooting guard, and Robinson, a forward, are starters and big parts of the Heat’s 3-point shooting machine that ranks second in the NBA in percentage. Nunn was tracked by Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon in the G League last season after he showed promise with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Simon pestered general manager Andy Elisburg and president Pat Riley incessantly to sign Nunn before another team did. With a series of roster moves, Miami cleared a spot and signed Nunn on the final day of the season.
The 6-foot-7 Bowen, now 21, played for the Sydney Kings in 2018-19 but wasn’t drafted. He ended up signing a two-way deal this summer with the Indiana Pacers. He’s with the Pacers’ G League developmental team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and made his Pacers debut last week with two points. “We have had dozens of NBA scouts attend games this season. Up to half a dozen or more will attend any single game featuring an NBL Next Star, and this is also great exposure for other NBL players to make a case for transitioning to the NBA,” Loeliger said.