Digital Media Concepts/The Evolution of Digital Scouting in the NBA

The NBA, or National Basketball Association, is the only major basketball league in North America. Of the 30 teams that participate every year for a chance at winning the World Championship, characterized by the Larry O’Brien trophy, 16 teams make the NBA playoffs (eight from the Western Conference and eight from the Eastern Conference) and the other fourteen teams participate in the NBA Draft Lottery.[1]

The stars drafted first in the 2011 NBA Draft Class
2011 NBA Draft Lottery selections

The NBA Lottery edit

The fourteen non-playoff teams jockey for the first selection in the NBA Draft of that respective year. The best player is usually selected with the first selection and every team in the NBA Lottery has a slight chance of selecting this player. In the early NBA days, draft positions for lottery picks, or the players selected with a draft lottery position, were selected with a coin flip. Mathematically, the teams with the worst three records each have a 14 percent chance at winning the Draft Lottery in the NBA.

The History of Scouting edit

However, the way the Draft lottery is designed, any upset is possible. This highly differs from the very beginning of the Draft Lottery, where picks were determined to go to the same NBA team that had an upcoming player in their part of the country.[2] An upcoming player from LSU, or Louisiana State University had their rights consumed by the New Orleans Jazz. This is exemplified by NBA legend Pete Maravich. This process has been accepted and used for 73 years. The main drafting decisions are usually made by a consensus of the teams’ front offices and the rest of their organizations. The Draft Lottery positions are selected at random. The selected incoming players are also known as Rookies.

Exposure to Scouting edit

Over time, Scouting reports, the main digital facet to inform organizations representing NBA teams, give them a summary and decent intuition about the players they select in the NBA Draft. Scouts for the NBA and the basketball world work together to provide a digital portfolio for the incoming stars.[3] Scouting reports have evolved digitally, from written essays about the players to online interviews, collages of scouted players’ strengths and weaknesses, online viral videos, and mock drafts. According to the NBA website, “NBA Draft Combine 2020 will give players the opportunity to participate in league and team interviews, both conducted via videoconference from Sept. 28 through Oct. 16.” [4]The NBA Draft Combine is the very beginning of the professional future for NBA hopefuls. The NBA Draft Combine is described as an event where “Players will also take part in an individual on-court program consisting of strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, shooting drills and a “Pro Day” video, all conducted in October at the NBA team facility nearest to a player’s home or interim residence.”[5]

The Journey to the NBA edit

However, many scouting sites that provide this dissemination of information, such as[6], have no affiliation with the NBA, according to their website. They provide updated analyses and trending reports that may involve players that improve, fall off, immigrate to foreign leagues, or convince players from other independent leagues to join the NBA. Digital scouting happens on a daily basis, whether based on current, future or past players. NBA hopeful Kahlil Whitney on scouting website was analyzed “Whitney plays with a summer team from Chicago, he plays his high school ball in New Jersey. Seton Hall is all over him and Whitney's father played for the Pirates, but there's no pressure to follow in his father's footsteps.”[7] Scouting reports may involve players from the Euro leagues, Australian leagues, Chinese, Korean, or Japanese professional leagues, or even the G-League (the NBA affiliate developmental league for aspiring players not ready for the NBA yet) or other hopefuls that have made a name for themselves participating in organized basketball at a relatively high level. Players from around the world compete for a chance to play in the NBA or even the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which is the main source of future NBA talent in the world currently.

The Possibility of Busting edit

The entire process of drafting is done digitally, and like most digital equipment, there can be flaws. Busting is a recognition of players who make the NBA but never perform up to their standard or expectations in the NBA. Busts are the basic source of negativity in scouting reports. Most drafts have their fair share of busts; although any player can potentially bust, the blame goes onto the higher draft picks, usually the selections in the NBA Draft Lottery rather than the other sixteen teams’ picks (picks of the playoff bound teams).

Ceilings and Floors edit

To create a foresight or sense of anticipation to assist teams’ front office members in making a feasible decision, there is a system installed in scouting reports called ceilings and floors. The ceiling anticipates how dominant a player can be and a floor is the worst a player can end up. There can be combinations of ceilings and floors for different players. A player with a ‘high bust potential’ usually refers to a player that can either have a low floor and high ceiling or a low floor and a low ceiling. To summarize what the scouts are indicating about a players’ potential, some digital scouting sites compare the upcoming players’ potential with current NBA players, from role players to stars. The NBA draft lottery’s 1st picks have involved stars such as: Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Blake Griffin, John Wall, and Anthony Davis.[8]However, there have also been questionable selections such as: Joe Smith, Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown, Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Bennett[9], who together averaged around less than 10 points per game. The league average is 8.7 points per game, according to[10].

Comparisons in Drafting edit

Digitally, the floor and ceiling are estimated based on measurement, statistics, evaluation, and systematic intuition. The 2020 mock draft, or the consensus example of how the draft will play out, is decided on draft night but predictions come along much earlier. According to, the consensus no. 1 overall pick, which was granted to the Minnesota Timberwolves, was to select the player with the highest floor and highest ceiling, University of Georgia guard Anthony Edwards. He was compared to NBA superstar and champion Dwyane Wade. However, NBA star Stephen Curry,[11] who was the no. 7 overall selection in 2009 NBA Draft[12], was said to have a high bust potential and was compared to NBA veteran role player Eddie House.[13]

Rationale in Drafting edit

While it certainly may be unfair or inaccurate, especially to players from backgrounds that have produced busts in the past, scouting reports and digital basketball websites need a reasonable vocation to measure talent accurately. The main assumption spawned from this dissension is that NCAA players are reliable draft picks, while Euro League and foreign players are going to be busts. While there are very many NBA stars from the Euro Leagues, such as NBA phenom Luka Dončić or NBA star Ricky Rubio.[14] There are also busts from the NCAA such as two separate no. 1 selections: Ohio State Buckeyes Center Greg Oden[15] – who struggled with injuries and fell off and Washington Huskies University Guard Markelle Fultz, [16]who simply never lived up to his expectations and is currently trying to find a home with the Orlando Magic. Oden and Fultz both are considered busts, but both had ‘high ceilings’ and ‘low floors.’

References edit

  1. release, Official. "2020 NBA Lottery Results & 1-60 Draft Order". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  2. "NBA territorial pick". Wikipedia. 2020-06-06. 
  3. "Home -". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  4. "The official site of the NBA". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  5. release, Official. "NBA announces innovative format for Draft Combine 2020". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  6. "Home -". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  7. "NJHoops - Whitney Declares For NBA Draft". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  8. "List of first overall NBA draft picks". Wikipedia. 2020-09-11. 
  9. Hussong, Justin. "15 Biggest NBA Draft Busts of All Time". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  10. "Basketball Statistics and History". Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  11. "Home -". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  12. "2009 NBA Draft". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  13. "DraftExpress - NBA Draft, NCAA and International Basketball". DraftExpress. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  14. "Players - Welcome to EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  15. "Why Greg Oden is wrong to say he'll go down as the NBA's biggest bust". FOX Sports. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  16. "Former No. 1 NBA Pick Proving He's Not a Bust". InsideHook. Retrieved 2020-10-06.