Gregg Polinsky Q&A: Scouting the Draft
June 1, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Gregg Polinsky’s second season as the Nets’ director of player personnel is winding down, but with the June 24th Draft approaching, the work is only beginning. He’ll be able to draw upon 11 seasons of experience with the Nets, including three as director of scouting. Based out of Birmingham, Ala., Polinsky will play a key role in helping to determine who the Nets will draft in a few weeks.
The Nets have three of the top 31 picks in the coming draft, which means Director of Player Personnel Gregg Polinsky will be busy preparing with President Rod Thorn and VP of Basketball Operations Bobby Marks, helping to direct the rest of the scouting staff.
Gregg recently spoke with NJNets.com via phone to discuss his role in the Nets’ draft process, how the team is preparing and what they look to gain from workouts and the combine. Our transcript follows.
NJNets.com: How did you approach the lottery, not knowing what pick the team would end up with?
Gregg Polinsky: I think we were approaching the lottery like we would (have with) any pick. We’re going through the process that we normally follow, doing our due diligence in terms of background checks, going through our reports, having conversations, discussions, trying to separate guys in terms of their qualities as players, what they might mean in terms of impacting our team now, in the future or both.
NJNets.com: It seems the projections for No. 3 are forward-heavy …
Polinsky: I think there’s always beauty in the eye of the beholder. We’re looking at all players. Certainly, most draft reports show that there’s some very good – or potentially good bigs – after the guys you’ve mentioned. I guess the popular public opinion amongst media would be those two guys, but I don’t think you really know.
I think all teams are measuring what they value in guys; there’s still a lot of workouts to go; there’s still more interviews to go. I think until you have a complete picture that it is too early to say, really, what guys will go in any slot, until everybody gets their I’s dotted and T’s crossed.
NJNets.com: How different is it holding three of the first 31 picks after drafting only No. 11 last year?
Well, for obvious reasons, it’s like the year before, when we had three picks and took Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and CD-R (Chris Douglas-Roberts). I think you’ve got to look at, the obvious thing, is the time. you’re now dealing with three particular picks, as you mentioned, versus one. But the thing I think, for us, we have to be prepared for a number of scenarios. There’s so many things that can go on.
Prior to the Draft, (Nets President) Rod Thorn will be hearing from a lot of people and examining what he thinks is best for our team going forward. If someone presents something to us, whether that means we change a draft position, whether that means somebody presents something to Rod he thinks is better for us as an organization.
So it’s not really just your three picks – it’s literally knowing the entire draft and what might benefit you. And those scenarios change in the weeks (leading) up to the Draft, days up to the Draft, but also on Draft night.
NJNets.com: So it’s a fluid process?
Polinsky: Yeah. Sometimes it’s very fluid, sometimes it’s very choppy. The thing that you want to make sure of, and the thing that Rod and our organization and our scouting department personnel people, is that we’re prepared for every potential scenario.
NJNets.com: What did you gain from the Chicago combine?
I think it’s a little different for all of us. For Rod, and Bobby (Marks, Nets VP of Basketball Operations), they’re with the team the majority of the year. Rod watches an amazing amount of basketball, and he is very well-versed. But actually getting to see guys up close on the court, and getting to see their bodies, their wingspan and having the opportunity to interview these guys is probably the greatest benefit of the Chicago experience.
You really do get a feel for kids: their body language, do they make eye contact, gauging their personality to some degree, being able to ask questions you’ve had, maybe, about the dynamics of their team or why they played a certain way. I think Chicago provides some things. If you’ve seen these guys a lot, you’ve got to be somewhat cautious not to play too much into the drills; use (them) as a piece of the puzzle, but not a large piece of the puzzle.
NJNets.com: So that’s the basis going forward?
Polinsky: No. I’d say the basis going forward is what we’ve all seen during the year and what we learn in our background checks.
NJNets.com: What about measuring success versus NBA potential? How can you differentiate ‘good in college’ from ‘will be awesome in the NBA’?
That’s a good question. I think if anybody had the magic answer for that, nobody’d ever make a mistake or it’d be a perfect process. I think, as an organization, you have to have an idea of what you really value and what you prioritize – and that can change based on your team, what your needs are at that time.
Depending on the slot of your pick, do you take a higher risk or do you take a more sure thing, based on performance? Do you go with youth or do you go with a more experienced guy? I don’t think there’s any one answer to that. Each year is somewhat unique to itself, but as an organization, you want to have a footprint so you can fill in the pieces as you go along.
NJNets.com: What are your everyday responsibilities when it comes to the draft?
Polinsky: What I would say is – I’m redundant here, because I said this before, so I don’t want to bore anybody – but the process starts very early with what we do, identifying prospects. We go through a variety of lists, a variety of services. Bobby Marks does an unbelievable job of pooling our information together; I’m not sure people understand how important he is in our process. I work closely with Bobby and our scouts to gather the information, create our lists and follow a plan.
We’re all NBA/Minor League scouts: Jordan Cohn, myself, Maury Hanks, our regional scout. We probably see, on average, 18-20 games a month, starting in November; there are some practices mixed in. There are many phone calls made, once we can do that near the end of the year, to get our background checks established. Obviously, you can do it on seniors earlier than you can with underclassmen, because you must wait for the official declaration from the NBA to begin any work on underclassmen.
You take all your reports, you take all your opinions and you have conferences with Rod to get him as informed as possible, so at the end, when we do this, that Rod can make an educated call on what he views is the best player or players for our team going forward.
NJNets.com: Is there ever a point you feel ‘done’?
Well, I think if you’re going to be good at this, you want to have as many scenarios played out as possible, you want to be as well-versed (as possible), have watched as many DVDs (as possible). If people were to call you up with the possibility of moving picks or a trade, you want to have that layed out to the best of your ability.
If you’re ever comfortable, if you don’t have some edge to you and some level of anxiety, you’re probably a little bit complacent. And we want to avoid that, so there’s always a little anxiety and a little edge within our group, and I think that’s a healthy thing as long as you know you’ve put your work in and your time in to get as prepared as possible for June 24.