Friday, June 20, 2008

Organization, collaboration keys to success on draft day

While on the subject of the draft, I've always loved being a part of the draft process and experiencing how coaches, GMs and scouts interact and collaborate.

My first NBA draft was almost 20 years ago when I was an assistant with the the Minnesota T-wolves. It was early in the franchise's history and Billy McKinney and John Hammonds were a great team.

In Orlando, the draft room with John Gabriel (photo, left) and Chuck Daly was an interesting place to be. Coach Daly always talked about how great Gabe was in the draft room on draft night, balancing trades and being prepared for all scenarios. Gabe thrived under the pressure and was as cool as could be.

With the Atlanta Hawks, Pete Babcock was incredibly organized and thorough. He and Chris Grant worked so hard at the draft process, allowing everyone from scouts to coaches to personnel people to be involved, but only if they got both feet in, meaning you really had to study film work on players and do your homework.

At Golden State, Garry St. Jean had a great eye for talent and really used his scouting staff. For the Warriors at that time, Ron Meikle (photo, left), who was a great communicator with coaching staff, and Bob Rinehart (a real pro who who was right on in wanting to take Josh Howard late) played key roles, along with all of the experience of Gary Fitzsimmons, who like Saint saw the draft through a coach's eye with the experience of a GM.

Saint also had the balancing act of helping develop two great future GMs in Otis Smith and Chris Mullin, both of whom had a voice in the draft room.

With Memphis, Jerry West knew exactly who he wanted. He had great eye for what his team needed and who would fit in. And, even in the draft room, Jerry was an intense competitor. Tony Barone and his son, Tony Jr., were both excellent evaluators of talent.

And in Sacramento, Scotty Stirling and Jerry Reynolds (photo, left), two guys who've spent their lives in and around the NBA, were great in the draft process.

It's interesting to watch how a front office works together and communicates during the draft. It really provides insight into the team's culture -- what they value, how they operate, how they interact with each other, etc.