Where do NBA general managers go to find out about a seven-footer toiling in Australia, or the lightning-quick point guard from Greece? How about the college player from little-known Western Nebraska JC?
For more than 25 years, NBA teams have relied on Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting services, to find the answers. NBA general managers enjoy Blake's honest assessments of players, including, "He's a seven-footer with one notable attribute: He's alive!" and, "He's a three-point shooter, not necessarily a three-point maker."
Blake, who recently celebrated his 74th birthday, has a quick wit matched by few. His evaluations are still sought out and respected, and he retains his zest for the game that has been his life's work. Equal parts trusted advisor to NBA decision-makers, fervent last hope of college coaches, savvy bird dog scout and sage storyteller of the NBA's past, Blake is savoring his place in NBA history as he continues to scour the world to find the NBA players of tomorrow.
Blake chatted live on June 25.
from tnt2.columbus.oh.da.uu.net at 1:02pm ET
Who do you anticipate the Wizards' No. 1 pick to be in the draft?
at 1:05pm ET
I don't anticipate the Wizards. They have a number of options. They can trade down, possibly to get the same player they would like, such as a power forward from Charlotte by the name of Rodney White. But they're going to ask a lot in order to make that move.
Most NBA teams, when they're in a position like Washington, will put in column A all the players they will ask to return and who are under contract. It is expected they will buy out the contract of veteran guard Mitch Richmond, so that's a position they will be interested in. Then in column B they'll have a list of their free agents. Then in column C, what's the most important position to fill? Or do you take the best player available?
The problem with this draft, that I describe as a work in progress, is that there is no best player available. The media has indicated that 19-year old Kwame Brown is the most complete young player, if the Wizards keep the pick. He's 6-11, 250 and he can play the four or the five. This is a draft of phenomenal talent certainly among the high school players.
An NBA team has the opportunity to draft a center only once every 20.5 years. You would assume that maybe the Wizards might contemplate taking a center. You must remember all of the aforementioned players, Eddy Curry, Jason Chandler, Brown and DeSagana Diop all can play two positions.
from proxy.aol.com at 1:07pm ET
Why do scouts like or dislike Troy Murphy? Will he be selected as a small forward or power forward? Where do you think he will go?
at 1:08pm ET
He has been invited to New York. We are paying coaches anywhere from $5-7 million dollars to coach so I will let them make that decision. Murph has played very well in workouts for teams. He has gotten quicker. He has great release on his shot. He'll be top 15. It wouldn't suprise me if he went 8th and it wouldn't surprise me if he went 15th. He's going to be a very good NBA player and that's al we're interested.
from proxy.aol.com at 1:09pm ET
Who do you think the Chicago Bulls will get with their fourth pick in the draft? What players will go in the first five picks?
at 1:09pm ET
They will take who's left. Their pick will be triggered by picks 1, 2 and 3.
I would assume that Chicago will be looking for a center and possibly Eddy Curry, a native of Chicago would fall to fourth.
at 1:11pm ET
How do you see Joe Forte shaping up in the draft? Do you think his poor showing in the NCAA Tourney lowered his stock and how good a pro do you think he'll be?
at 1:13pm ET
I'm the only one that grades the players with any authenticity and Forte is my number one selection at two guard. Before you get too excited, let me point out it is the weakest of the five positions from a depth standpoint. But Forte has all the ingredients you need to be a good NBA player. You can defend college players because of the preponderance of various defenses that are indigenous only to the college ranks.
Forte has been born to the position and despite the fact he only played two years, he's played a lot of international basketball for the US and can step in and play right away. Also he showed that he can step from the college three-point line to the NBA three-point line without lowering his effectiveness ratio. And he has a very good assist-to-turnover ratio. He had about 30-40 more assists than turnovers.
from sbi.com at 1:14pm ET
Marty-great having the chance to chat with you like this. As a Maryland grad, I was wondering how my boys Terrence Morris and Mike Mardesich were looking in the upcoming draft? Read somewhere that Mardesich had a solid showing in Chicago. As for Morris, is he still slipping? What's your expert opinion on these two guys?
Thanks, appreciate the insight.
at 1:17pm ET
Mardesich really didn't have much of an opportunity to play at Maryland because he's a very young player coming along slowly. In postseason play, the fact that he's 7-1 and very aggressive will earn him if not a draft choice, a phone call in the wee hours of Thursday morning by a number of teams wanting to sign him as a free agent. Plus he speaks 6-7 languages so you must include that in his tendencies.
As far as Morris is concerned, what seems to be included in all the stories about Terence is that he would have been a lottery pick had he come out after his sophomore year. I think that there is no credibility to that statement. I put Terence on a number of preseason All-American teams a year ago and statistically I don't think he had a good year. Shoving that statement aside, if you were to build a prototype of a small forward, you would maybe pattern it after Terence because he can pass the ball, bring it upcourt well and shoot well. He just needs to get some experience and concentrate on playing hard the whole ballgame. He's a good rebounder for his size and is among the top shot blockers in the country for his position. He needs to get his consciousness to make basketball fun for him again. It would not surprise me to see him go in the top 20. I think he has the ability to play in the NBA.
from proxy.aol.com at 1:18pm ET
What is your evaluation of Kedrick Brown of Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Florida?
at 1:20pm ET
His position in the draft is rising. He's an outstanding rebounder. He can play small forward; he was an NJCAA All-American. He's a superb athlete; he's improved his shooting to where he now makes one of every four three-pointers that he takes. He has great hands, can block shots and I would say he's ready to step in and play. I think he'll go higher than where he was going this morning.
I would not be surprised to see him go 10-15. You have to understand that in trying to predict where a player is going, we overlook all of the aspects of the teams' needs. There are players who are great players who could have probably gone higher -- Paul Pierce, for example of Boston, who was projected as the fourth best talent in the draft, fell to 10 because everyone set their sights on big people. Necessity being the mother of invention, everybody during that particular year went for needs and passed up some young talents.
at 1:21pm ET
What do you think about Pau Gasol?
at 1:23pm ET
He's a guy that all of a sudden has jumped into the middle of the lottery, but everyone in the NBA has been aware of him for the last couple years. My son, who's an expert on European basketball, has seen him play and he played in the Spanish Junior World Championship team. He can play probably eventually at 240. He's got solid ball-handling skills. Why don't we just sum up and say that he is a better prospect now than Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas at an equivalent point in his career.
at 1:23pm ET
Where do you think Brendan Haywood will be drafted and will the Raptors have interest in him if he is available at 17?
at 1:24pm ET
They probably would. Centers are very difficult to find. He's big; he's strong; he will rebound and I don't think they need scoring. Eventually he will give them scoring. He blocked 117 shots in his senior year and he has a physical presence they certainly can use.
from tnt6.orl1.da.uu.net at 1:25pm ET
There are a lot of young players coming out. How do you suppose they will handle the NBA and what do you think makes them so special?
at 1:28pm ET
One of the reasons you find kids leaving early can be attributed to a number of factors. Newsday, the Long Island paper did a very interesting week-long storyline on summer basketball in the New York area. And a lot of young people playing with and against AAU teams played two and three games a day over a two-month period. And their opponents were college, high school and NBA players, playing a different style of ball than you see in college -- an up-tempo style game that you see on the playgrounds, but it was organized. So the rate of development of these players has been elevated to a faster pace. We really only have four players who have come out who have the physical prowess, who can play multiple positions. And there's the money factor. You go to college to develop skills in order to earn a living. And in many cases, these players feel that their skills have carried them to a point in their basketball development that they want to attempt to play at a higher level.
at 1:29pm ET
Aren't Michael Bradley's feet too slow and hands too hard to be an effective inside presence?
at 1:30pm ET
Willy, I hope you're not doing this for a living. Michael Bradley will be an outstanding NBA player because he's further advanced than a majority of the players in this year's draft. For shame Willy. What games have you been watching?
from proxy.aol.com at 1:30pm ET
Most mock drafts that I've seen around the internet have Battier going to either Atlanta or Chicago. Which of these two teams do you believe will actually draft him if they have the chance?
at 1:32pm ET
Neither one. I don't believe in mock drafts. Most of the people who have websites and who work for publications have to come up with a mock draft to tintillate the appetites of sports fans much earlier than normal people. It is ludicrous to conduct a mock draft in April or May or early June. There are several gentlemen who conduct mock drafts whose names I won't mention to embarrass them, who are wrong 95% over a five-year period. Shane Battier is an outstanding player and unless something happens, I think he might go 6th or 7th. Wherever he goes, he's going to be very valuable to that particular team.
from proxy.aol.com at 1:33pm ET
How do you view Eddie Griffin's off court problems with teammates? Is he the firey competitor, or is he selfish, with a real attitude problem?
at 1:35pm ET
First of all, there were two isolated incidents. One was a HS incident, in which his "opponent" was much bigger than Eddie Griffin. Eddie Griffin is entering the draft because he feels an obligation to help the family of his half-brother who passed away a number of months ago who was very close to Eddie. Eddie is a talented young man. And you have to understand when you speak of young players, the NBA has the best support system headed by former Celtic great Tom Sanders. Those were isolated cases and would have no basis for any questions about Eddie's demeanor on or off the court.
at 1:35pm ET
How well do you think Kirk Haston will perform in the NBA. Offensively his game is more polished that almost every big man in the draft with exception to Troy Murphy and Michael Bradley.
at 1:37pm ET
Revise your thinking. Kirk Haston played very well in Chicago, which triggered in his mind, the opportunity to enter the NBA. He's an outstanding shooter. Remember, he spent four years at Indiana, redshirt. It's a talent that seems to be lacking today, his shooting. He's going to need a lot of work. Unlike years back in the 40s-70s when I ran teams, you have 4-6 coaches, all of whom are specialists, which can help him make adjustments he needs to make entering the NBA. We rarely had assistant coaches back in the 50s-60s-70s.
at 1:37pm ET
Is Jeryl Sasser ready for the NBA? What teams are interested in drafting him?
at 1:38pm ET
Jeryl, as you know, tried to enter the draft a year ago, was injured and did the correct thing and returned to college. Pete Babcock, who will take over this spot at 3:00 and I saw him have his career game of 39 points at Texas-El Paso. He feels he is a point guard and I think someone will give him the opportunity to play that position. I don't know what teams are interested in him, but I would assess an early second round pick.
from a2000.nl at 1:39pm ET
Marty, so far you've been fairly positive about the players you talked about. Are there any players in the draft, you feel are overrated?
at 1:42pm ET
Well since I'm the only one who actually rates players, I don't like to deal with negativity. When I analyze a player, I always like to look at his positives because if a player doesn't have positives, he'll never get to the negatives. I've been doing this 50 years and I'm a positive person. So when you say overrated, some players are the victims of their own publicity, so I try to make a judgment on the basis of what I see and what my staff sees. And if you'll go back through the history of my NBA life, you'll find that Stockton, Malone, Dumars, Kersey, Porter and I could go on and on with a list of players who were not big names, who I drafted and had great careers. So hype means nothing. Here in Atlanta, where I am based, we have a USBL team owned by one of our computer guys, a young man named Darrell Armstrong played here for two years. It is almost incomprehensible to me that with all the connections I have in basketball, it took me two years to get him a tryout with an NBA team. And of course, we all know about Darrell Armstrong.
from mchgnct1.in.home.com at 1:42pm ET
What about G/F Joe Johnson?
at 1:43pm ET
Well, Joe Johnson is being touted as a top 10 pick and he's had great workouts with a number of teams. He's a terrific talent and I think that he needs to step up his play to another level of competitiveness and take advantage of his talent. But he is a tremendously skilled overall player.
at 1:46pm ET
When you say immediate, you can put a lot of time frames into the term. The most polished is Kwame Brown, who is wise beyond his years. He would have gone to college except he is attempting to build a life for his seven brothers and sisters and his mother is disabled. I think he is doing the right thing. When you say impact, you have to remember that the 13 teams in the lottery are there because he couldn't make the playoffs. Whoever picks Brown is getting a future All-Star. I have referred to Rashard Lewis of the Sonics, who was starting for an NBA team in his third year. I like Brown better than Lewis was at his senior year. Kwame can also shoot the ball from two positions. So I would be very pleased to come out of the draft with Kwame Brown.
at 1:48pm ET
Everybody's welcome to come out and meet me, who Kirk Gibson, the former Detroit Tiger and great outfielder, calls me the Godfather of scouting. This will be the most interesting draft in years. Keep your ears and eyes open deep into the second round and one last parting word, there will be players who are not drafted, who will be playing in the NBA in the next two or three years, which gives you an indication of how deep this draft is.