James Kerti, a basketball talent scout for both college and NBA teams, did an AMA — an “Ask Me Anything” for the uninitiated — on reddit this afternoon. Well, technically he did an AMAA, which is an “Ask Me Almost Anything,” but that’s besides the point. Kerti offered some insight on what goes on behind-the-scenes in the scouting process for an NBA Draft and for college recruitment, and his answers were pretty interesting.
The first noteworthy point is Kerti’s explanation of how he got into the business. “Start scouting high school games in your area, write up reports, post them online, and share them with people who might be interested,” Kerti said. He added that you do this for free until somebody hopefully notices you, realizes you know what you’re talking about, and hires you.
One redditor asked Kerti what skill is the toughest to project from one level to the next and why. He answered that the “ability to create off the dribble” is the toughest to project. He said: “It’s one of those areas where, in college, a guy’s ability to be successful depends a lot on level of competition and his teammates — that is, do defenses have to worry about them, or do those defenses scheme to focus on the ball-handler?”
Kerti also spilt a secret: his favorite sleeper in the 2013 NBA Draft is Allen Crabbe from Cal. “He’s projected to go late in the first round,” Kerti said. “He’s a great outside shooter who can also create space for his pull-up jumper. He’d do especially well on a team with a structured offense that can get him open three-pointers coming off screens. He’s a very good wing defender too, which you can’t say about some of Crabbe’s peers in this draft.”
One funny note from Kerti came when a redditor asked him to explain some scout jargon. He only had one answer, and that answer is “Darko,” which is presumably a word used to describe a huge bust or a player that has huge potential to be a bust, a la Darko Milicic.
The most pressing question came from someone who said he’d been watching re-runs of old drafts on NBA TV recently. He saw one where the Jazz were disappointed that someone took the player they wanted because they were stuck with Karl Malone. Malone, of course, went on to be a two-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, and arguably the greatest Utah Jazz player of all time. The redditor explained that this makes him wonder if scouts actually have any idea what they’re doing and asked if Kerti can prove that there’s “a method to the madness.”
“I hear you. It’s tough,” he responded. “It’s my belief — and I don’t know that this is a popular one — that the vast majority of guys being considered for the draft can become valuable players in the NBA if they end up in the right situation. Too often we see guys end up with teams where they don’t get to play, or they don’t fit in with the team’s style or personnel. I think that’s the biggest area where things go awry.”
If you want to check out the rest of the AMAA, where Kerti goes into specifics about some of the players being talked about for the upcoming draft, you can read through it here.