2013 NBA Draft Preview: Ryan Blake
With the NBA Draft less than a month away, for Ryan Blake, Senior Director of NBA Scouting Operations, "This is Super Bowl time!" In his 30th year of scouting, Blake – who started at 17 – continues to organize and collect the essential and critical information that NBA teams require to assess current and future NBA Draft prospects, helping them know who to look at, what to look for and also who to avoid.
Blake took time out of a busy pre-Draft schedule to chat with BROOKLYNNETS.COM about his scouting history, this year's draft class and also how the Nets might fare entering with pick No. 22. Here are a few of the highlights – stay tuned for more!
On the scope of his scouting operation:
"Well, our organization has changed and evolved throughout the years, depending on what the league has detailed for us. I think in the past we've always run our business as if we're running a team, as if we're making those picks. So a lot of the information we generate to all of our NBA teams equally is information so they can have it in front of them and know who to go see, who not to go see, how to do it, who are the contacts, how to go about scheduling.
"In the past we used to put books together with all the prospects. We had three books out, covering all the prospects in college, high school and internationally. Though obviously each team has their own scouts and will make their own picks and decisions.
"We also help put together the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which is a college senior tournament that's run by the city of Portsmouth – they've been doing so for 61 years. We try to bring in the players that the teams want to see so they can evaluate in a 5-on-5 basis. There's 64 players on 8 teams. And we consult with all the teams as well."
On how the 2013 Draft class is shaping up:
"We’ve got a very deep draft this year. It’s sort of in line with the last three years, where we may not have those guys that make you stand up and go, ‘This is definitely going to be a franchise player.’ But you have so many players deep in the draft that when the 60th pick is finished, every team is going to be calling up several agents, trying to get valuable players that are now free agents – into their Summer League.
"So I think it’s going to be an interesting draft, because we don’t know where anyone’s going to go right now. It’s going to be beauty in the eye of the beholder. Some teams will pick for acquisition, some will pick for other teams, some will pick on basis of need, some will pick the best player available. It’s going to be one of those drafts. I anticipate there’s going to be a number of trades this year. Last year I don’t think we had as many as years past. But this year, there’s so many good players that some teams will really try to get what they want."
On which position is deep enough to begin project toward the end of the First Round:
"I think the bigs, and I lump together the bigs, because we still don't really have that prototypical center. We have about 12-17 positions in the NBA. If you look at a (Roy) Hibbert, who you might say is an old-school NBA center; maybe even a Dwight Howard. But you have guys like Al Horford, who's playing center at 6-10 and can spread the defense a little bit, score off the high post and baseline jumpers and also with his back to the basket.
"Here, you've got guys like Gorgui Dieng from Louisville, who I really like. And think this guy might be going up the ladder. He hasn't been able to work out because of an ankle injury, but if you look at Dieng and his production, he's a guy that's been so unselfish throughout the whole season. He averaged a double-double, he's got good hands, he's a defensive specialist.
"We use an app called Vantage, which is advanaced analytics; it's a new company that is just brilliant. We can go down and compare all the bigs, and we've noticed through the guys that we like, guys like Dieng and Mike Muscala from Bucknell – who's a 7-foot guy that can spread the defense and play with his back to the basket, is highly skilled – may even be undervalued. You've got a number of bigs in a draft like this that you're going to find guys that are going to slip. I would be surprised if Muscala doesn't go First Round – and if he's there, you have to consider him and Deng.
"You've got guys like Steven Adams – we don't know where he's going to go; some project him higher (than 22). Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga: 7-foot kid who just runs and runs; he's just full of energy, could be one of those guys that comes off the bench. Because you've got to understand, all these guys that come in are not going to be your first through the fourth option. They've got to earn themselves defensively, and that's what we have. And they have the potential to be better. Cody Zeller's going to be up there high. And I assume Steven Adams as well. But it's pretty deep as far as bigs."