July 31, 2020 Scouting and Scavenging

Scouting and Scavenging Webinar Recordings Now Available

Scouting and Scavenging’s Daniel Marks has been proud to host four separate webinars during COVID, and now 3 of the 4 are available for viewing on Youtube, with the 4th being available in notes form at the bottom of this post:

“Education and College Athletics” – July 28th featuring Mitch Henderson (Princeton MBB HC), Kim English (Tennessee MBB AC), Jamion Christian (George Washington MBB HC), Gerald Gurney (Oklahoma Professor), Kelly Anderson (Illinois State SR Academic Coordinator), and LaTonya Pinkard (Netflix’s “Last Chance U” Seasons 3 and 4)

“The Long, Winding Road with Marshall Henderson” – July 16th discussing Marshall’s journey from an SEC Championship and scoring title in 2013, to a stint in drug rehab, and a pro career spanning Italy, Qatar, Iraq, and Reno, Nevada.

“Using Sports as a Vehicle to Create Change” – July 9th featuring Eric Legrand (Team Legrand Foundation), Daniel Poneman (Beyond Athlete Management; Undiscovered Showcase), Cameron Lynch (Retired NFL Player; Heart Works Media), Milt Newton (Milwaukee Bucks; Emerald Gems Foundation), and Alicia Jessop (Pepperdine University; The Athletic)

“Breaking In and Applying for NBA Jobs Amidst a Pandemic” – May 28th featuring Bart Taylor (Utah Jazz), Jason Buckner (Indiana Pacers), Travis Stockbridge (Houston Rockets), Peter Herman (Wisconsin Herd), Matt Bollero (Milwaukee Bucks), Brendon Yu (Cleveland Cavaliers), and Alex Kline (New York Knicks)

This webinar was not recorded so notes can be seen below:

 

SCOUTING AND SCAVENGING

  • Today’s panel is hosted by Scouting and Scavenging, an initiative started by Daniel Marks of the Milwaukee Bucks in January of 2020:
    • Encouraging members of the basketball community to collect unused hotel toiletries from their travels throughout the season
    • Often times these toiletries get thrown it or discarded after check-out, so doing this eliminates waste
    • At the end of the season, the goal is for each organization/team to distribute the supplies they have collected throughout the year to community organizations they have partnered with
  • Given the COVID-19 crisis, and how it impacted Daniel’s home area of New Jersey, people were encouraged to send their collected supplies to him to be organized and distributed in the city of Newark, NJ, one of the hardest hit cities in the country by COVID:
    • Through donations this year of supplies, in addition to a one time fundraiser, we were able to make 2,161 toiletry kits and 3 boxes of miscellaneous supplies to be distributed within Newark
    • Distribution date was July 10th, can read more about it here
  • When team travel starts up again people are encouraged to collect on their own and spread the word within their own programs to continue making a positive change in their local communities:
    • Requires no advance planning, just some extra space in your luggage but the supplies add up over time
    • Homeless shelters and other community organizations have dire need for these supplies especially now

INTRODUCTION AND GENERAL ADVICE ON APPLYING FOR INTERNSHIPS/JOBS

  • Holding this seminar as a way to give back to people who are in positions now that we were in not long ago
  • Breaking into this industry is hard during normal times and especially so during a pandemic with worldwide uncertainty so wanted to try to provide a blueprint for how to handle this process
  • There is not one way to get into the NBA – none of us can say to you, “if you do A, B, and C you will have a job waiting for you”:
    • Many different paths into the industry – timing, luck, and relationships all play a key role
    • Take advantage of every opportunity afforded to you to learn, network, and grow
  • Impact of COVID is widespread:
    • Everyone in the world has been affected in some way shape or form – medically, economically, emotionally, etc.
    • Uncertainty is the only certainty right now:
      • Hiring processes have multiple layers in a normal year, it will be like that on steroids this year
  • Be mindful of that fact when reaching out to teams during these times:
    • Many team employees might be unsure of their own futures, let alone what their internship program will look like
  • Use this time to learn new skills and better prepare yourself for potential opportunities when they arise:
    • Examples:
      • Video: Synergy/Synergy Editor, IMovie, SportsCode
      • Salary Cap: Larry Coon FAQ
      • Content Creation: Photo Editor, graphic software
      • Attend webinars like this one to continue educating yourself
  • Don’t be discouraged if you send something and don’t get a reply back:
    • 24/7 industry, people are always on call
    • Higher ups in this industry are pulled in a million different directions, often times replying to non-essential emails is at the bottom of their to-do list
    • Doesn’t mean to stop trying, but be prepared to have a number of emails go unanswered – nature of the industry
  • If someone does take the time to talk to you, don’t ask general questions – be specific and informed in the questions you asked:
    • Do your research beforehand, make an impression with your preparation
      • e. for Daniel Marks, “why did you decide to go from the media side to the team side?”
      • e. for Bart Taylor, “how do you divide your Jazz and Stars responsibilities throughout the year?”
  • Take pride in your work:
    • Grammar, spelling, and formatting all matter
    • Present things in a clean, concise manner that is easily readable
    • Often times only have 1 chance to make a first impression, take advantage of it – if what you send is sloppy, you are already starting behind the 8 ball
  • Learn to be concise:
    • Tendency to want to show how much you know:
      • Long scouting reports, long emails, multi-page documents
  • Bandwidth is limited, people’s time is finite, and the amount of material being consumed every day in this industry is enormous:
    • Odds of someone reading a 20 page attachment to an email are slim to none
  • Get to the point, want someone to be able to read what you send and come away knowing exactly how you feel or what the purpose behind your work is
  • “If everything is important than nothing is important” – Justin Wetzel, GLeague coach
  • If you get hired in an entry level position, make sure to take the time to do the small things with the same attention to detail as you would do the “big” things:
    • e. if you are asked to stock the fridge, and the GM comes down and sees there are no waters there in the morning, he will think ‘how can I trust this person with bigger projects if they can’t even stock the fridge’
    • If you do your job well, and can be relied on, your responsibilities will gradually increase over time
      • Excel in your role first, then expand

 

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION

  • For Travis Stockbridge: Often times internships and entry level jobs are not posted publicly, what is the best way for people to find out about these opportunities?
    • A lot of jobs are posted on Team Works online so use them as your first resource but not everything is posted there
    • Use your network and contacts to help you – basketball is a small world, there might not be an opportunity with the Rockets but I will forward people’s names or info onto other teams who might have positions available
      • Want to help good people have opportunities to break in
    • How do you build a network? Reach out to people, people might not respond right away but they are usually willing to help when they do respond:
      • Attend events like PIT, Summer League, and the Combine to meet people in face to face settings when things start to normalize
  • For Brendon Yu: How does someone navigate the balancing act between staying in touch and building a relationship vs being overbearing in pursuit of a job? Do you have any pet peeves or things people definitely shouldn’t do when reaching out?
    • Not one right way or right answer about how to go about this especially when first trying to break in
    • Best advice would be that it is a “feel” thing – similar to a PG on the floor (i.e. don’t want your PG jacking up every shot, but also don’t want them passing the ball then standing in the corner)
    • Try to understand the vibe you are getting from the people you reach out to – how responsive are they, do they seem busy, do they seem interested in continuing to build a relationship
    • If someone says they don’t have an internship, it is usually the case that they don’t have anything
  • For Bart Taylor: How has your work process changed during this time? How do you keep yourself and your staff engaged while working from home?
    • Called around to people who I knew primarily worked from home already – agents, other scouts to pick their brains
    • Consensus pointers:
      • Get up like you normally would if you were going into the office
      • Get dressed, don’t just hang out in your sweats and PJ’s all day
      • When you are in your home office, treat that time like you would if you were in your actual office – don’t get distracted with the TV or walking around the house, sit down and lock in
      • Create a daily schedule for yourself of the things you want to accomplish each day
    • Reaching out to friends, family, and co-workers to stay connected to people throughout these times helps keep you energized and engaged:
      • What am I missing? Are there other things I could be doing during these times?
  • For Peter Herman: How did your experiences as a manager and GA prepare you for your NBA internship? What was the biggest surprise for you during your 2-year internship?”
    • Getting familiar with those resources you use as a manager or GA (IMovie, excel, photo shop) will give you an advantage when starting in the NBA because those are all things that you will continue using as you move on to a new gig:
      • This was biggest surprise for me, definitely did not anticipate that photoshopping Coach Musselman’s twitter account would help prepare me for what I was doing in the NBA but the skills I learned doing that came in handy when I was making documents for our scouting departments
    • Be organized well, so that you can react quickly:
      • When someone calls and asks you for something, want to be organized enough that you can come up with an answer in a timely fashion
      • What works for me personally:
        • Organize all of my work into folders and sub-folders both on my laptop and phone
        • Leave text messages and emails marked as “unread” until I am able to complete the text outlined in them
      • Set up and create reminders
    • Overall communication in an NBA front office is extremely important, be familiar with different platforms for communicating:
      • Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, group messaging
    • Don’t really understand the depth of your basketball network until they start moving up the ladder as well:
      • Many people I worked with at USA or as a GA are now with other NBA teams or college programs
      • Continue to build and maintain the relationships you form in the early stages of your career
  • For Alex Kline: What types of skills can people be learning during these times to help better prepare them for an opportunity down the line?
    • The way we look at basketball players when we are scouting is the same way we approach hiring people for the front office or coaching staff:
      • When you are scouting, you ask why would the coach put someone in the game? Shooting, defense, rim protection, etc.
      • When hiring for a front office, you are asking the same question, what is your skill? What is your niche? What is the one thing you do better than anybody else?
        • Play to your strengths
        • Different areas of the field: administrative, intel gathering, scouting, video, player development (on and off court), salary cap, analytics
        • Can take time to figure out what your niche is – ask people you respect for feedback:
          • Sometimes we are blind to our own strengths and weaknesses
    • Interned at Jordan Brand during JR year of college and was asked where in the company I wanted to work, I said I would work anywhere and they put me in the communications department:
      • Was a bad experience for me and terrible fit for my skillset
    • Must prove that you are willing to work, that you do quality work, and that you have a niche:
      • Do that by putting together a work portfolio and work samples
      • Might not think doing all of that work is worthwhile especially if you aren’t hearing back from teams but need to put that time in for something to pay off
    • Got my break through an international scout for the New Orleans Pelicans:
      • Did some scouting work for him, a year later he introduces me to Pelicans GM, 10 minutes into phone conversation they hire me
    • Reputation and character matter:
      • Small world, everyone talks to each other and people in the industry want to work with other good people
      • Character matters the same way when building a front office as it does when building a team
    • Daniel Marks added:
      • Niche when I first came into the league was gathering background information
        • Allowed me to help implement new background questioning and intel processes early on
        • Also had a niche with managing our new database
        • Role grew from there but was rooted in those strengths
  • For Matt Bollero: What qualities make someone a great intern? How does someone add value in a position often considered ‘lowest on the totem pole’?
    • Finding a niche is number 1 thing when you are trying to land an internship
    • Resume is more than just a piece of paper these days, when I get a resume these days, there are 3 things I look for, and will use Peter Herman as an example because he is someone who stood out as an intern candidate:
      • Well-rounded:
        • USA Basketball, GA at Nevada, worked 15 camps every summer
    • Organized:
      • Clean presentation of information
    • Diligent:
      • Difference between being overbearing and diligent:
      • Being diligent in building a relationship which is what Peter did – don’t only reach out to people when you need something, reach out to try and learn, ask questions, and build a genuine relationship
    • Want someone you enjoy working with, that you can trust, and who will get things done
    • Coming out of school, was going to take an internship with the Utah Flash driving the team bus before Minnesota came in with an NBA internship offer:
      • First task I was given was cleaning the storage closet → let’s do it diligently and let’s do it all in:
        • Closet was attached to the GM’s office so did not want to work on it during the day:
        • Went in from 10pm to 2am for 3 straight days to completely reorganize the closet
        • Took everything out of the closet, rearranged shelves, and put things back in
        • After doing that project, the word diligent became attached to me and people knew if I was given a task, I would do it diligently
    • I was an intern, but now being in a different position I realize that “lowest totem pole” position is actually one of the most important positions in the NBA:
      • Involved in almost every area of the front office
      • Trusted with a ton of responsibility and relied on to produce
      • Having the ability to call on and rely on people in these positions is huge – times where I might need something done at 10 at night, knowing our interns can help me get it done quicker is huge help
    • Example of Mike Sergo, been with Bucks for 25 years because of his attitude and willingness to do anything to help the organization:
      • Video room, equipment room, picking up players at the airport, driving equipment van to Vegas
      • Nickname is the “Utility Man” because even after 25 years he is still willing to do anything he can to help the organization
      • Reason he has survived multiple coaches and GM’s is because of this attitude
    • Work hard but also work smart:
      • Everyone in this business works long hours, people won’t be impressed if you work 80-90 hour weeks – it is what you do and what you accomplish with the time you are working that matters
      • If you are given an assignment to work on, do it to the best of your ability but don’t be afraid to make suggestions during or after the fact on ways the process or project could be done differently moving forward
  • Question for Jason Buckner: You were a huge mentor for me in college and early in my professional career. Why do you continue to give back to people looking to break into the industry? What is the one piece of advice you would give to everyone on this zoom?
    • I had people that reached out to me and supported me as I was starting my career – when I got into the industry I realized just how busy the people that had been taking the time to meet with me had been, made me gain a greater appreciation for them
      • Made a pledge when I got in with the Pacers that I would always be willing to give back in the same way others gave to me when I was starting
    • Love talented people:
      • When you (Daniel Marks) were writing for DIME I could see the effort and time you put into your work, so that stood out to me when I was reading your articles
      • Want to see more good people not only in my organization but the league as a whole – want to surround yourself with people who add value and you enjoy being around
    • Advice I give about getting into the league and sticking in the league:
      • Dig deeper:
        • Goes along with what Matt says about being diligent
        • Ask 2nd, 3rd level questions when you are working on things
        • Go beyond the surface when given a task
    • Don’t start out right away by asking for a job or internship:
      • Approach it with the mindset of ‘how can I be of service’:
      • i.e. are there players in the SEC you have questions about, do you need contact info for our coaching staff
    • Important to share your work product and portfolio, but want to incentivize the people you are communicating with to continue having a dialogue
  • Audience Question for Travis Stockbridge: what advanced stats do you take into consideration during the draft process?
    • Not one single number or stat you look during the draft
    • Combination of multiple factors go into making draft decisions:
      • Analytics and stats play a part as does scouting, intel, and medical evaluations
      • Know what area of the decision making process you can add value in, then job of decision makers is figuring out how to bring all the various information together
    • Impossible to narrow the process down to one specific thing when there are so many layers
  • Audience Question for Brendon Yu: do you recommend promoting your work on social media or keeping it within your network?
    • There isn’t necessarily a right way to answer this question or approach that
    • Know a lot of people who post their work product on Twitter or Instagram, and I follow those accounts that do good work:
      • Can be a way to build a following and expand your network
    • If you are posting things publicly, make sure it is quality work:
      • Once something is on the internet, it is there forever
      • See it often times with players where tweets from 4 or 5 years ago will resurface and potentially affect their draft stock – don’t want a similar thing to happen when trying to break in on the front office side
  • Audience Question for Matt Bollero and Bart Taylor: how do you re-evaluate your own scouting?
    • From Matt:
      • So much historical data to look back on when evaluating your scouting processes:
        • Important to take information from your brain, put it on paper, and into the database:
          • If the information is not accounted for, it is harder to evaluate your processes in the future without data from the past
          • Good note takers are incredibly important
    • Scouting reports, intel reports, medical reports, draft rankings
    • What was the process at that time? Look at it holistically (as a whole) and on an individual level:
      • Learn from the past, identify where mistakes were made
      • Also want to make sure you find positives – are there any trends in our scouting process that were noteworthy, do certain scouts have an eye for certain types of players?
    • Looking back and re-evaluating is not about trying to find who was wrong the most because the reality is everybody is wrong at some point:
      • If we could ensure we would be right every time on a draft pick, probably wouldn’t need as big of a scouting staff
    • From Bart:
      • Being able to look back honestly on your opinions:
        • It is ok to be wrong, don’t always feel like you need to be right every time
        • A lot of mistakes are made when people want to be right more than they want to work collaboratively to find the best player or prospect:
        • No one person has all the answers
  • Audience Question for Daniel Marks, Alex Kline, and Jason Buckner: what type of work samples should we be sending to NBA teams?
    • From Daniel:
      • Be original and creative with the work product you send – think outside the box:
        • Everybody wants to be a scout, but reality is when people are starting in this industry they likely won’t be scouting at all early on
        • Writing scouting reports on players from big schools like Kentucky or Duke are likely the last thing an NBA team needs – have a database full of those and scouts who are paid to evaluate
        • Example: if you are a manager at a school, write a personality report on prospects at your school, or put together a contact list of all the coaches at your school for teams to call
    • Send work product that demonstrates your skillset and niche
    • Be concise and to the point, ability to communicate your message and distill it down is so crucial – longer does not always mean better

 

    • From Jason:
      • Accuracy is big:
        • In most cases NBA teams already know the information you are providing or can confirm the information you send
        • Have had people send background or intel information saying a player is ‘the greatest kid in the world’ when I have information that isn’t the case – make sure whatever you are sharing is accurate
      • Scouting reports are usually the last thing NBA teams need unless the reports are on small D1’s, D2’s, or JuCo’s – places that teams are not necessarily sending scouts to
        • Efficiency matters:
          • Everybody in this industry is busy with work and life in general
          • Are we going to read your work? If you send us something that is 20 pages long, it probably isn’t getting read
    • Know the people you are sending things to:
      • Understand the relationship you have with them, how sensitive the information is, and what you want to put in writing
  • Audience Question for Matt Bollero: if you provide intel reports for NBA teams but don’t hear back, should you follow up with them?
    • Be careful of the intel that you give out – personal recommendation is not to send out intel blindly to people that you don’t know:
      • Where could that information go after I send it?
      • What happens if I send this information and I never hear back?
      • If you build a relationship and dialogue with someone, then send them intel there is more likely to be a response and you know you won’t just be sending it without hearing back
    • When reaching out to people try to find a connection with them (i.e. same alma mater) first and foremost
    • Don’t show all your cards at once:
      • Don’t necessarily share all the information you have (intel, scouting reports, projects) when you communicate with a person:
      • Some people in the industry will take that and you’ll never hear from them again
    • NBA teams are more comfortable getting intel from people they know – if they get ‘blind’ intel from a stranger, only natural to question how valid it is
  • Audience Question for Brendon Yu: what is the next learnable skill that will become needed in an NBA front office?
    • Recommend to people who reach out to try and learn things in the analytics realm (i.e. coding and programming)
    • Show much more data and information available even than a few years ago, this aspect of the front office is still growing:
      • Teams are still figuring out the best way to organize, manage, and utilize all the data they now have access to
      • Find methods to interpret the data in meaningful ways
  • Audience Question for Daniel Marks and Peter Herman: besides knowledge of the game, what other skills do front offices look for when hiring?
    • From Daniel:
      • Knowledge of the game is important but it is not as important as you might think on the outside:
        • Being in the NBA, you will learn and absorb the game just by being around – that is a knowledge set that is easier to learn than how to be organized, how to manage your time, and some of the other critical skills needed in entry level positions
        • Won’t be scouting or writing reports necessarily as an intern, so how can you create value in other ways?
    • Be willing to do your job – temptation to show you can do more than you are being asked to, but if you neglect to do the actual job you have then you won’t get to do more things because you haven’t shown you can be trusted to get the job done
    • From Peter:
      • Huge component to being an intern is understanding your bosses:
        • How do they like information presented?
        • What do they expect from a project?
        • How can I make their lives easier?
    • “Most important job you can do is the one you have been assigned”
    • Have to be comfortable being on call all the time and ready to complete a task at a moment’s notice
    • Once you have done your job, then you can start to branch out into other areas
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