Charlotte Bobcats GM Rich Cho is arguably the most technologically advanced executive in the NBA. Before earning his law degree at Pepperdine, Cho studied engineering as an undergraduate and worked at Boeing for several years. And now he’s transferred some of that knowledge to the Bobcats, developing a brand new scouting system that drills deeper into player backgrounds, offers consistent evaluations and is dramatically speedier in updating information. The Charlotte Observer has the fascinating details: “The database scouting system has over 50,000 web pages. You can instantly look up year-by-year statistics for Boston Celtics great Bill Russell … or any other player in NBA history. You can check the injury archive of a Slovenian playing in the Spanish league or whether a forward in the Development League was ever busted for drugs. This is Charlotte Bobcats general manager Rich Cho’s baby, an Internet-friendly system that took six months and a six-figure cost to develop. Now it evolves daily and gets put to the test in Thursday night’s NBA draft, when the Bobcats select second and 31st following a 7-59 season. The Bobcats were using ‘Hawkeye,’ one of several plug-in scouting tools NBA teams can buy and adapt to their needs. Cho thought it wiser to start from scratch, to customize a Bobcats-only system. Cho’s system has all the basics you’d expect: Player contracts, statistics that can be used to compare Bobcats players’ development to others’, any potential bonuses that could complicate trade discussions. Is a player a leader or a follower? Does he smoke or drink? Does he care about others? And through ‘numbers’ (a wealth of statistics that can be collated a variety of ways for apples-to-apples comparison). Beyond that, Cho asks the team’s scouting staff for two things: Look ahead, not behind, and develop a consistency in evaluating players’ development. Now, when a staffer scouts a game, one keystroke emails the info to every decision-maker on the team. Speed matters. You might have 20 minutes before the trade deadline at mid-season when you’re offered a deal. You want the comparative salaries, the statistics and intel on involved players all in one place instantly. That’s even truer on draft night, when there are five minutes between each first-round pick and two minutes between second-round picks.”
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