Magic Assistant GM Matt Lloyd Answers Fans’ Questions Ahead of 2020 NBA Draft
ORLANDO - One of the most knowledgeable people in the NBA when it comes to scouting for the draft and making other basketball personnel decisions is Matt Lloyd, the Orlando Magic’s assistant general manager since 2012. Before joining the Magic, Lloyd spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, his last five as the team’s director of college scouting.
With the 2020 NBA Draft taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Lloyd hopped on a Zoom call to answer questions from Magic fans. Many topics were discussed, including what the scouting process has been like this year with all the restrictions due to the pandemic and what he expects the league’s free agency period to be like with such little time left before training camp starts.
Team broadcasters David Steele, Jeff Turner, Dante Marchitelli and Brian Hill, who also works alongside Lloyd in the Magic’s front office, were also on the call and participated in the conversation.
Without getting too specific about which prospects the Magic are targeting in the draft with their 15th pick in the first round and 45th in the second, Lloyd addressed the evaluation methods used this year with teams not being able to invite players to their cities for in-person workouts. He explained how the NBA allowed teams to select 10 prospects at maximum to go see at neutral venues. Also, the league filmed players performing drills, which helped Lloyd study their shooting form and other key movements on the court.
To get a better grasp of their personalities, Lloyd and other Magic front office staff met virtually with prospects over Zoom.
“We have gathered everything we can. Anything that’s sent to us we watched,” he explained. “Anything we can get our hands on, we’ve watched, we’ve logged, we’ve evaluated. This year it’s been very beneficial.”
One of the most underrated facets of the draft evaluation process is inspecting a prospect’s character. Although talent is obviously crucial to have, character often determines whether a player can go from good to great, which is something Lloyd has learned throughout his front office career.
“It’s a huge part of our jobs and we have 12 other scouts sitting in another conference room who are still talking about all that stuff. It’s a product of all the work that we do throughout the course of the year to gather that information about who they are,” he said. “The guy that we pick fifteen, we will have probably Zoomed with that kid four or five times. And we will have talked to every single college coach. And we will have talked to the trainer. There’s ways to get that information and to be able to have a confident assessment of the kid’s character. That’s a number one priority.”
Probably the most common question asked around the draft is whether it’s better to select the best player available or choose someone that fills a void. It depends, Lloyd says, based on where a team is currently positioned and what their short and long-term goals are.
Another key aspect to that conversation is communication, especially with the team’s coaches, who must be on the same page as the front office in order for everything to click on the court.
“If that person that was eighth (on big board) and you are drafting 16th (for example) and the coach is saying, ‘why are we taking that guy, we have players A, B and C at that position,’ the communication dynamic has to be positive enough where the GM can explain to the coach this is what we see happening and we can get him there (to his ceiling) because we are going to put this into him. And whatever we put into him, we are going to get out of him. There’s no formula. There’s no list. Everything has to be lined up and we have to react to what happens ahead of us.”
Although his primary focus right now is the draft and helping President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and General Manager John Hammond make the best possible decisions with their draft selections, Lloyd addressed other matters related to the Magic’s roster for the upcoming season.
One of them was on Chuma Okeke, who recently signed his rookie contract with the Magic. Okeke, the 16th overall pick in last year’s draft, spent this past season rehabbing his knee injury with the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate.
“We are excited about Chuma,” Lloyd said. “He’s been rehabbing through the quarantine time. He’s going to be ready to go. He’ll be ramping up for training camp. The important thing to remember for Chuma is that he is coming off an injury and he’s going to be a rookie and he missed all of last year. He’s ready to go.”
As you probably would expect with all sorts of rumors swirling around, Lloyd was asked whether there was any chance the Magic could trade up into the lottery.
“We’re going to line the board up and see where things start to fall,” he said. “This year there will be a lot more variance in how teams have these players ranked because there hasn’t been that period where teams have been traveling together to different workouts and everything has had to be done virtually this year. We’ll line it up and then when an opportunity arises, we’ll be able to react to it.”