NetScouts breaks it all down.
I spent some time with Carl Berman one of the head honchos over at NetScouts Basketball to get insight and knowledge on a variety of topics. We discussed the evolution of NetScouts and how they came to be, the services they offer and the places they visit. Carl also breaks down several players from this year’s rookie class top to bottom and what foreign players to keep an eye out for in the future.
SLAM: For those unfamiliar with your site and services, can you elaborate and educate everyone on what NetScouts is all about?
NetScouts: My partner Chris Denker and I started NetScouts Basketball after seeing a need to help players in their careers, both in giving them impartial advice and in getting them placed for professional opportunities. We both worked in minor league basketball, Chris as a coach and I as a general manager and coach. Chris has over 20 years of Division I coaching experience and decided to try scouting, and that’s when we got the idea of NetScouts Basketball.
Now we are the largest collegiate scouting service in the United States utilizing regional scouts with prior basketball industry experience. We scouted over 200 teams last season and generated over 1,300 scouting reports. We then work with primarily overseas professional teams in consulting and helping them evaluate American players. After the season is over we conduct a series of overseas tryout camps throughout the U.S. After that we try to connect players who work with us with professional opportunities worldwide. Then, it’s time for another basketball season!
Our website and blog have been mentioned among the top basketball websites and blogs. We are active in social networking, particularly on Twitter and Facebook and are a strategic partner with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as well as several top European basketball websites, Talk Basket of France and Prensa BasketMe of Spain. We are member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association are correspondents for Eurobasket.
SLAM: When scouting players, what is the most consistent weakness in players? What areas of the game are especially neglected?
NetScouts: That’s a good question and it’s tough to state a general weakness, but some that come to mind are overconfidence in the player’s own abilities which can show in too much one on one play, too much dribbling, making tough passes when easier passes would do. Also it’s surprising how many players are not conditioned as well as they could be. Everyone likes to work on their offense but it takes a good coach to get players to play as hard on defense, particularly defense off the ball or help side defense.
SLAM: How would you differentiate U.S. players and foreign players? What skill sets would you like to see U.S. players learn or utilize like their foreign counterparts?
NetScouts: The U.S. game and the international game is really quite a bit different. From the game time difference, to the key, the number of games played and the way the referees call the game there are big differences. Players adapt to the rules and way the game is played so it’s no wonder that players develop different skills. The general view is that U.S, players are more athletic than their international counterparts but not as good shooters and in many cases not as tough. The game is definitely called differently and you could see how the U.S. players had issues with that until the recent Olympics. As more U.S. players go overseas and more overseas players come to the U.S. the differences will be reduced.
SLAM: Take us through what being a scout entails, what do you look for, how many times do you have to see a player to have a firm grasp on what he can and can’t do?
NetScouts: What we do at NetScouts Basketball is probably somewhat more difficult that what other scouts do as we are not only determining whether a player can potentially play in the NBA but if not, where that player could play. From Euro league teams all the way through the professional spectrum and to some of the lower quality leagues. We try to get a good feel of where everyone we scout is capable of playing. Scouting obviously entails going to a lot of games and filling some gaps with some TV work. We’ll go to practices when we can and have the time in addition to games. We look at a players entire game, offense, shooting ,passing, rebounding, whether he can create his own shot, can he rebound out of his area, can he defend, both his man and off the ball, athleticism, strength, etc. You can generally get an idea of where a player is at fairly quickly but repetitive views are most reliable. The best part for me is seeing players improve. Sam Young is a good example. He clearly improved all aspects of his game each year. The hardest part is telling some players who have completed their eligibility and are looking to play professionally somewhere that they don’t have much of a chance and should probably move on with their life.
SLAM: Who are some of the players internationally that U.S. fans should pay attention to? Which players are on the fast track to the NBA?
NetScouts: I was at the Nike Hoop Summit this past year in Portland, OR and was very impressed with the skills of some of the European big men. They completely outclassed the American bigs. Most impressive to me was Donatus Motiejunas a 7-0, 215-pound Lithuainian who can play the 3, 4 or 5. He showed good moves around the basket, good shooting skills and ball skills. He won;’ be 20 years old until next September but is a definite high first rounder whenever he comes out. Milan Macvan is a strong 6-8, 265-pounder from Croatia. He doesn’t have much athleticism but knows how to play. He uses his body to get rebounds, is a good passer and has good shooting range. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes up whenever he gets in the draft. He doesn’t have the athleticism but has the body and the smarts. Tomislav Zubcic, another Croatian, is a 6-10, 210-pound wing. He has a nice shot with good range and will create mismatches because of his height. He obviously needs to add strength but the potential is surely there. Milos Teodosic, a 6-5 Serbian point guard, is the newest European sensation after his play this month in the EuroBasket 2009 tournament in Poland. He is a deadly three point shooter with excellent point guard skills. His drawback is that he’s not terribly athletic or fast. He is under contract with Olympiakos until 2012 and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops.
SLAM: What is your take on NBA players heading overseas to play? Do you envision a superstar heading overseas in the prime of his career?
NetScouts: The world is getting smaller and more NBA players will be heading overseas. In many cases it will be players in the low-to-mid NBA salary levels who can make comparable money in Europe. Some players are interested in Europe as there are about half the games to play so the wear and tear on their bodies is much more reasonable. I’m not sure if a top NBA player would head over there as those players just make so much money in the states, but as they near the end of their career I can see some headed overseas.
SLAM: Let’s breakdown some of the rookies from this year’s draft class. Scouting report on Stephen Curry?
NetScouts: NetScouts Basketball scouted Stephen Curry over 10 times and we are confident he will make an excellent NBA player. We were extremely surprised when Minnesota passed him by and drafted Flynn (although we really like Flynn also).
Curry is very quick and much more athletic than he seems. He is skinny and needs another 10-15 pounds of muscle for the NBA. Obviously his shooting stroke and range are as good as it gets. He gets his shot up quickly while squaring up properly. More suited to a catch and shoot or screen game but can create and get off his shot. When he does that however, in many cases he settles for long, lower percentage shots and tends to dribble too much prior to getting off his shot.
The big question is can he play point in the NBA. We feel that he can but are still unsure as to whether that would help the team more than if he were more in a combo guard role, similar to a Leandro Barbosa. He has a very high basketball IQ, but when running the point tends to accumulate turnovers via some suspect passes and seems to have some trouble with traps or double teams. He does see the floor very well and does see the open man. The question is would running the point detract from his natural scoring ability.
He is extremely competitive and finds a way to get his points even when his shot isn’t falling. He works hard on defense, has quick hands and anticipates passing lanes well. His skinny frame would hurt defending stronger guards.
We feel Curry will be a star in the NBA, the only question would be from which position. We’d like to see him add some muscle to his frame. Either way he’ll be good for 15ppg next season. He is smart and will work to improve all aspects of his game.
SLAM: Scouting report on Ricky Rubio?
NetScouts: We thought Rubio was the best pure point guard in this year’s draft and were dumbfounded when Minnesota took Flynn also. Rubio’s only big weakness is the one most easily correctible – shooting. He sees the entire court extremely well and get the ball to the open man. Great dribbling ability and court presence. Comparable to a Pete Maravich without the shooting ability. Will be a perennial all-star once he gets to the NBA.
SLAM: Scouting report on Hasheem Thabeet?
NetScouts: We are not sold on Thabeet. He has a lot of work to do on his offensive game before he will be even serviceable there. He is a good rebounder within his area because of his height and reach but does not rebound well out of his area. He seems like a very good kid and will need to put in the work on his offensive game as well as his aggressiveness in rebounding. Obviously a solid defender around the basket due to his height. We’ll have to come back to him in two years and see how he has developed.
SLAM: Scouting report on Brandon Jennings?
NetScouts: Jennings certainly has skills but considering that he could not start in Europe, has a ways to go. Very quick and can get by his man off the dribble but needs to work on his shooting, playmaking and certainly needs maturity. He seems prone to turnovers and makes the tough crowd pleasing pass at times rather than the right pass. Needs to understand how to play within a team game and make the best percentage play at all times. Tends to shoot too much. Needs to work on his defense. Clearly has the potential to be a solid NBA player but must work on his game and gain maturity. Check back in 2-3 years.
SLAM: Scouting report on Johnny Flynn?
NetScouts: We like Flynn a lot. Incredibly quick, can blow by defenders and has a good medium range shot. Small for an NBA point but has incredible hops which makes up somewhat for his lack of height. Mature for his age. Gives up some on defense because of his height and build but makes up for it some with his quickness. We think Flynn will be a solid contributor from day 1 in the NBA.
SLAM: Scouting report on Blake Griffin?
NetScouts: His only weakness is his shooting ability and he will work to improve there. Incredibly hard worker and MUCH stronger than he appears. Very quick for his size, he has ball skills and is an excellent passer. Great leaping ability and body control. Will out work and out run most players he is matched against. If he improves his mid-range shot he’ll be a perennial All-Star. Clearly the best player coming out of college this past season.
SLAM: Scouting report on James Harden?
NetScouts: Harden is probably the most NBA ready player with the exception of Griffin. He has an NBA body and is relentless going to the hoop. He’ll draw a lot of fouls in the NBA. Excellent offensive rebounder and a great rebounding guard. He competes all the time, does not take any time off while he is on the court. He’ll be a double figure scorer from day 1. All All-Star when he gets more consistent with his shot outside of 18-20 feet.
Born and raised in the Bay Area and currently residing on the Peninsula, Rasheed Malek represents the younger demographic of Warrior fans, which, according to Malek, “means I’ve witnessed nothing but bad basketball for most of my life.”