Talking Draft with Chris Denker Part 1

I’ve had the pleasure of trading some tweets/emails with Chris Denker, Managing Partner at NetScouts Basketball. Chris has a wealth of experience in the basketball industry accumulating over 22 years as a coach, scout, advance scout, video editor, clinician, consultant, writer, and administrator. Chris Denker is a 14 year veteran of NCAA Division I basketball coaching. He was a highly successful Head Coach of the Santa Clara University and Colorado State University women’s teams. In five seasons as Head Coach he amassed 96 wins and his teams reached post-season tournaments in four of those five seasons including one NIT Final Four. He was part of 5 WCC championships in 9 seasons with Santa Clara.

Up until the draft, we are going to talk to Chris about college hoops, top prospects, international players, who the Raptors should be targeting, and why NetScouts should be retained by Colangelo to shore up our scouting. Part 1 after the jump:

Q. What do you look for in a player that other scouts may not?
A. I can’t speak for other scouts but one thing I look for is results. What did they get done? A guy may look good in a uniform and run and jump well but never gets a rebound and is a low percentage shooter. I would prefer the guy who has shown he’ll produce for you. The best explanation of this is the NFL Combine and NBA Pre-Draft Camp where guys are tested on their physical abilities. Look at mock drafts before these events and then after and notice how some guy who jumped out of the gym is now a lottery pick but before he wasn’t a lock 1st round pick simply because he is an exciting athlete.

Last year Kevin Love and Michael Beasley were VERY similar in their ‘measurable’ scores such as 3/4 court sprint, cone drill, etc. Prior to that event everyone thought Love was too slow and not athletic enough to play. Another example is a guy like Josh Howard who slid to the 29th pick of the draft after being the 2003 ACC Player of the Year! I guess 28 teams decided to ignore what he did night in and night out in the ACC, “he’s ‘only’ 6’6 (but has very long arms) and not overly strong or quick” so he slid down the draft board. He’s since become an All-Star and played on a good Dallas team who regularly makes the playoffs.

In this years draft there are several guys who fit this label such as Ty Hansbrough, Dajuan Blair, and Sam Young. I’ll be curious to see where they go.

Sam Young - Slept on/ready to step up?

Sam Young - Slept on/ready to step up?

Q. What is the toughest position to scout for?
A. I think the Center position is the toughest because automatically we all love that size. Get the 7’0 franchise center for your organization! Well, not many big men have panned out lately. Although he’s coming off injury and just completed his official Rookie season, Greg Oden is a great example for this question. He has not performed to the ability it appeared he had coming out of Ohio State and a lot of people are starting to question just how good he’ll end up being. So he is replaced by Kosta Koufas at Ohio State, a skilled big man who also comes out early and is selected by the Jazz. He spends his entire year either on the bench or in the NBA Developmental League. Now the third young big man from Ohio State, BJ Mullins, is coming out early and being projected as a late lottery to mid-first round pick. This guy didn’t even start at Ohio State and his numbers pale in comparison to the other two.

Perhaps someone will take him, develop him and he becomes the best of the 3 but I think that is what makes evaluating the Big Men the toughest for scouts.

Q. The Raptors need a 2/3 that can defend and score from the perimeter, who should they be targeting?
A. If the Raptors are looking for a 2/3 that can defend and score from the perimeter, they can go a couple ways. Do they want an Combo-Guard/Shooter type who can also play some point or do they want more size in a Small Forward/Wing type guy who might be able to slide over to the two spot as well? Or will they simply take the ‘Best Available Player’ on the board? Once they make those decisions I think it’s important to look at the option of trading up to get their guy or going 2 for 1 and trading down. If the position is deep or the guy you want may be available later and you can get another value pick or player for the 9th, trade it! The Spurs & Blazers have made a killing doing this type of thing over the past few years.

Specifically they’ll be looking at:

  • James Harden, 6’5 218 SG, Arizona State (Lefty, scorer, would probably need to trade up)
  • DeMar DeRozen, 6’7 200 SF/SG, USC (only 19 years old, up and down year at USC)
  • Chase Budinger, 6’7 218 SF/SG, Arizona (Shooter, good athlete)
  • Sam Young, 6’6 215 SF, Pitt (Tough, proven All-Big East performer)
  • Gerald Henderson, 6’5 215 SG, Duke (Great Leaper, father was NBA Player)
  • Terrance Williams, 6’6 220 SG, Louisville (Multi-Skilled, Best Passer of group)
  • Tyreke Evans, 6’5 195 SG, Memphis (only 19 years old, streak shooter)

If they did want to consider a Combo Guard type of player they’d also look at:

  • Stephen Curry, 6’3 185 Guard, Davidson (Best Shooter in the draft?)
  • Jrue Holiday, 6’4 195 SG/PG, UCLA (18 years old, athletic defender, shaky season at UCLA)

If it were me, with the depth available, they may consider trading down and still coming away with Young, Henderson, or Williams and another player or pick.

Demar DeRozan - A few more years?

Demar DeRozan - A few more years?

Q. Are you suggesting that the drop off from a DeMar DeRozan to a Sam Young (or one of the other guys) isn’t that steep? Is it a matter of that player needing to be in a certain situation to shine, or their ability/skill level that makes you say that?
Yes, it depends on how they have guys ranked and who they feel can help them, and if two guys are very close. But the consensus is that one is going very high, drop and take the other and get a second rd. pick or a vet player in the exchange. As an example, I for one, really like Sam Young and think DeRozan (although highly athletic) is a few years away. If I’m a team like the Raptors who went from playoffs to out, I must feel like I’m only a player or two away from challenging again, and can I wait on a young guy to develop? Take for example Courtney Lee of the Magic, he is a guy who played college ball, learned and developed, then found a role with a good team like Orlando shooting open 3’s when teams double Howard and playing tough defense. Sam Young, Terrance Williams, and Gerald Henderson could fill a similar role whereas I think DeRozan needs physical strength and maturity but could eventually be better than all of them. The question is, do the Raptors want to wait for that to happen?

Q. Lakers or Magic?
A. I’m not in the prediction business but I think you have to consider the Lakers the favorite with Kobe and they have home court.

Gasol & Bynum will be key to the LA attack as Howard has had occasional foul issues. If LA can get good defensive play from their role guys like Walton, Ariza, & Vujacic, and Lamar Odom they could wear down the Magic.

I like the Magic, I like how they play and think Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu have been terrific so from a fan perspective that is who I’ll be rooting for.

Smart pick? Lakers in 6.

If you have any questions you want Chris to answer, post them in the comments or drop me an email (rapsfan [at] raptorsrepublic [.] com). We are working on a few posts from now until the draft, so we will do our best to get them all answered.

Chris is active on Twitter, and one of the folks I enjoy following, you can catch him at @chrisdenker and @netscouts.

We’re active too, check us out: @raptorsrepublic @altraps @arsenalist @rapsfan

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