How much does raw talent versus personality and concerns about work ethic when drafting someone?
We all are great at looking back at a draft three or five years later and saying “how did we pass on player X” when at the time it’s not that simple. To use an easy example, any GM that tells you now he would have taken Kevin Durant over Greg Oden is lying — that is not what anyone with the power to make a decision inside basketball was saying or thinking at the time.
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo was part of a cross-sport conference of GMs this week at the Prime Time Sports conference and talked about what he looks for in a guy to draft, and he used an example from this past draft. From The Toronto Star (hat tip The Big Lead).
There’s a checklist: talent, physical tools, basketball IQ, how they perform, how we anticipate they’ll perform. Character. Emotional make-up. Marketability. Each component is part of the process. The toughest is what’s inside a player. You can’t see the heart, the emotional aspect of things.
Picking eighth, I passed on somebody I consider a top-five talent in the draft because we felt like he didn’t have the right mental makeup. I passed on someone we thought was a top-three physical specimen because we felt he wasn’t the right fit for our team and didn’t have the right mental makeup.
At No. 8 in the 2012 draft, the Raptors took Terrence Ross from Washington, who can’t get off their bench right now but certainly is an athletic shooting guard with potential.
At No. 9, the Pistons took Andre Drummond out of UConn. When you look down the draft board it’s clear Drummond is who Colangelo is talking about — scouts loved his skills and makeup, the question was whether he would stay focused and mature as an NBA player. Because he didn’t show that in college.
So far this season Drummond has looked pretty good in limited minutes — he’s shooting 67.6 percent, has had some good defensive plays and has a PER of 23.7. He has shown highlight moment flashes, but still is a rookie learning his way (and could use more run, frankly). Nine games into his rookie season is no time to judge Drummond, but you can see what GMs were tempted by.
And that’s the risk — if Drummond, who was very young, pulls it together you let the guy with all the talent get away. But if you pick the guy with the million dollar body and the five-cent head, you can get Kwame Brown. Drafting is more art than science at times, with some luck thrown in.