Pro Scout School Blog
10 Things to Know About an NBA Scouting Career
By: TPG Sports Group
- Sacrifice – In order to do your job the right way you must sacrifice family, friends, a significant other and fun. You will be on the road anywhere from 100 to 230 days per year. Your job is not only on the road, it is planning the trip and making appropriate calls. It entails a lot of Internet research and calls to people in the inner circle of the player (coaches, trainers, video coordinator, media, AD, etc). When you return from a trip, you are spending a lot of time writing reports, watching TV games, making phone calls, and doing research. You must have an understanding inner circle, friends & family. You are essentially “present” 50-100 days per year. You will miss many family experiences and other leisure activities due to this job. There are not many exceptions. Many entry-level and assistant positions on the basketball side do not earn much of salary. Unless you make it to the director or GM level (which is incredibly difficult), you will be earning a significantly low salary. The sacrifice is real. These are the types of things to be taken into consideration before deciding on this career path. It’s wonderful to be in the league for a few reasons – working at the highest level of your sport with the brightest minds, new opportunities, as well as many perks. However, the financial component is not very good for the sacrifices that have to be made.
- Relationships – It is essential to have trusting relationships in this business. You have to be able to get good information. Without healthy relationships it will be difficult to execute at the level your GM/Team expect you to. You often see former coaches hired as scouts. Former coaches have many relationships within basketball where they can get information efficiently. Good relationships with agents, media, coaches and anybody involved with the sport of basketball can have a huge impact on your career. The more relationships you have, the deeper the information you will be able to get. The more genuine the relationship you have, the easier it becomes to get good information. If you don’t have dozens of coaches and/or agents, media in your cell phones as contacts, then you have a very slim chance of being taken seriously.
- Travel – This is a very underrated part of the job and can be very taxing. Most of your travel will not be first class. Teams don’t budget for this (generally) unless you are a veteran scout or in upper management. You have to establish status on an airline in order to get occasional upgrades. If you have a ten-day scouting trip scheduled and you have a flight cancelation on day two, this could affect the rest of your trip. There are many moving parts to the travel part of the job. You will spend many days alone on the road. Occasionally, you get comfortable/become friends with other NBA scouts and can meet on the road. Be cautious of how you treat your body and take care of yourself. You will often being eating late after games and traveling early in the morning. Collect points on all travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars). This will help with bypassing long lines and making travel more efficient. Learn how to improvise when travel setbacks occur. There will be times when the travel coordinator will not be available to help. Know your way around travel shortcuts and options.
- Reports – This is a very time consuming process. You will end up writing reports on players that never play in the NBA. You must “cover your ass” and write-up any talent that is in the game in case the prospect starts to develop into a potential NBA player you have previous notes on him. Writing a report can average anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes for one player. Of course this depends on the amount of information you have or how much you were able to capture while scouting him. If you write up an average of 5 players per game, these reports can take hours. Add this to the travel, scheduling, phone calls, emails, research, etc., and you are looking at a lot of time on this job. Reports are different on each NBA team. I worked for three NBA teams and all three had a different system. Be careful always writing what a player can’t do and try to focus on what a player can do. Try to figure out what translates. Our league has a different set of rules/spacing therefore different things translate.
- Stay in your lane – The NBA has a hierarchy that is very specific. There are unwritten rules to your role and appropriate behavior. The obvious is to greatly respect the staff members that are in a more senior position than you; however, your colleagues that you are in the trenches with must be treated with the utmost respect. The people that struggle to stay in their lane don’t last long in the NBA. An example can be when someone tries to get a meeting with the GM or even team owner without being asked. This will disrupt staff chemistry. Going above or around your direct report will reflect very poorly. If colleagues notice this, it is a good way to cause friction or lose trust. Do your job, do it well. Report to who the appropriate staff member and stay in your lane.
- Be Organized – In the world of travel it is very easy to find yourself unorganized. The pace in which NBA scouts & executives travel is very fast. You are constantly multitasking with phone calls, emails, reports, travel schedules, and, of course, your personal/home life. Letting one slip affects the other in a big way. Management is always evaluating the depth and level of your reports/information. Once you slip it is easy to play catch up with bad reports. Make lists. Finish your list each day. You will have setbacks. Be prepared and expect setbacks. You will find yourself taking notes in many different areas: notebook, iPad, iPhone, scrap paper etc. Be sure to condense or try and choose one method of note taking.
- Good information wins – There is information and there is good information. The ability to get “real” information is something that GM’s value greatly. It is easier to get “good” information if your relationships are healthy and genuine. You have to be able to give good information to also receive it. Be smart and never give up information about your own team or business. The NBA community is very small. This can be looked at as dishonest or sharing inside information, which is extremely frowned upon. Even if you may not think you are giving up sensitive info, it is not your place to assume. Stay loyal to your organization. Develop relationships with coaches (college, pro, INTL), agents, media, other scouts in the NBA, AAU coaches etc. These relationships will help in one of the most important areas of scouting: “Background Info”. Having the ability to get real background information and to find out how the prospect is wired or who he surrounds himself with, how he treats people, habits good/bad, etc, are extremely valuable to an organization. You can eventually learn how to share information with each other. This information becomes extremely valuable during draft week and free agency. If your GM can get great information from you that helps him make a clearer, more efficient decision, this will show well on your behalf.
- Time Management – In order to operate efficiently and at the highest level possible you must master the art of time management. You will balance many things while being an NBA executive. Most will tell you that the hardest thing to do is balance work with home/personal life. Many nights you are bringing work home. Sports are 24-7. Calls, games, research, emergency situations etc. Keep a very detailed notepad or note section in a device, (iPad/iPhone/one note). Roughly 8-10 new things will come at you unexpectedly during an average day during the NBA season. Be ready to be a great crisis manager. Have an understanding spouse/family. Falling behind often puts pressure on family, bills, deadlines, projects, reports and life in general. Be prepared to be prepared.
- Play the game – Understand how to navigate through the NBA and how to treat people the right way. Treating your equals in the NBA is very important. You will end up seeing many people on the road in airports, hotels, restaurants, games, media rooms etc. The secret ingredient to staying in the NBA a long time is having good relationships. The probability that you work for only one team for your entire career is very slim. It is important to develop trusting relationships. Within your own organization it is essential to treat everyone with respect, stay in your lane, do not try to climb, do not throw colleagues under the bus and above all, be early/stay late
- Trust – Unfortunately scouts aren’t hired on merit. They are usually hired from someone they know. This is how it is and probably will not change for a long time. “Attaching” is part of the business. Surround yourself with good people that are smart. People that do things the right way. It’s challenging enough to have a stable, long career in the NBA. Having talent is very important in the NBA as an executive but having a skill or talent that adds tremendous value will help the greatness attach back to you. Be genuine; let your GM know that you have his back and that you are loyal. At the end of the day he is going to evaluate you on 3 things: 1) Your talent 2) Your work ethic 3) Your loyalty. There are many other things that he will evaluate such as chemistry with staff, what you are consistently bringing to the table and your dedication to the franchise. The importance of attaching to greatness is a good way to prevent a short career. Establishing trusting relationships is a big part of your scouting career.
Pro Scout School Infographic
Pro Scout School Returns with More Exclusive Opportunities
TPG’s premier basketball event is back! Pro Scout School is returning to Las Vegas on July 11-12th at the Westgate Resort & Casino.
In 2015, we expanded Pro Scout School by adding the GM Experience. An exclusive session for 20 selected attendees, the GM Experience provided a rare opportunity to learn from and interact with NBA General Manager’s Kevin Pritchard (GM, Indiana Pacers) and Chad Buchanan (Asst. GM, Charlotte Hornets). The impact this session had on each attendee was tremendous. They were able to listen to NBA GM’s candidly discuss topics such as relationships with ownership and coaching staff, budget management, crisis management, travel, and draft preparation. Each attendee even got the opportunity for a one-on-one sit down with Pritchard and Buchanan.
2016 looks to build on the success of the GM Experience by providing additional exclusive sessions in other fields. In addition to the GM Experience, TPG will offer the President/CEO Experience, Sales & Marketing Experience and Media & Broadcasting Experience.
The four Experiences will be comprised of 20 attendees and feature multiple experts in each of the aforementioned segments.
The 20 attendees will receive the following:
- (2) Exclusive Sessions in addition to Pro Scout School
- Private Networking Social
- (2) Nights Hotel Stay at the Westgate Resort & Casino
- Unparalleled Access to Top Executives
- Expert Industry Career Advice
- 2-Day Pro Scout School Ticket
- Session Materials & Swag Bag
2016 Experience speakers include:
- GM Experience
- Kevin Pritchard – General Manager, Indiana Pacers
- Rich Cho – General Manager, Charlotte Hornets
- President/CEO Experience
- Scott O’Neil – CEO, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center
- Ryan Tanke – Sr. VP & Chief Revenue Officer, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Michael Zavodsky – Executive VP of Global Partnerships, Brooklyn Nets
- Sales & Marketing Experience
- Bob Hamer – President, Sports Business Solutions
- Marc Jackson – VP of Ticket Sales, Charlotte Hornets
- Meka White – Director of Sales OWO, Legends
- Media & Broadcasting Experience
- Fran Fraschilla – Broadcast Analyst, ESPN
- Chris Farrow – Coordinating Producer, ESPNU
If you are serious about pursuing a career in the basketball industry, attending Pro Scout School is a must. Additionally, the “Experiences” vastly enhance the opportunity to further your career in the industry. The education that will be provided, relationships developed and network assembled is unrivaled. No matter what your passion is, the journey into the basketball world starts at Pro Scout School. Follow your dreams and learn from the best in the industry!
The Art of Developing Relationships
By: TPG Sports Group
Every professional conference and event stresses the importance of networking with industry leaders. While this is true, there is a component of networking that is often overlooked – developing the relationship and cultivating that connection. It is great to meet someone who is in a position that you aspire to be in, but it is highly unlikely much will come from an introduction or five minute conversation. Here are five keys to developing strong professional relationships.
Whether it is a mutual connection you share or an impressive elevator pitch, give him or her a reason to remember you.TPG Sports Group
When meeting a professional in any industry, it is necessary to distinguish yourself in some way. Whether it is a mutual connection you share or an impressive elevator pitch, give him or her a reason to remember you. Offer to trade business cards and respectfully ask if it would be okay to reach out in the future. If they say yes, do not let too much time pass before reconnecting. A handwritten note is a great way to follow up with someone and it may separate you from other people he or she met. Letters do not get lost in e-mail inboxes and show that you care enough to take the time to write and send a letter. E-mails are still the fastest method of communication and a great way to interact. Mention something about the conversation you had and ask a thoughtful question. Show a willingness to learn, and listen to the advice that is given. Both approaches are important and should be executed the right way.
Being aware of what is going on in the industry and, more specifically, in a connection’s professional life, is very important. A great way to start a conversation via e-mail with a new connection could be when they get a new job or promotion, on their birthday or any other noteworthy achievements. Sending them a message about an achievement is something they will always appreciate. LinkedIn has become a great way to congratulate and comment on a connection’s promotions or job changes. Other ways to connect include asking for career advice and information about the industry, or offering to assist them in any way possible. Make sure to respect their time and space by not bombarding them with message after message.
Do not allow the relationship to be one sided. Rarely will you develop a great relationship by just expecting to receive guidance and assistance from your connections without anything in return. Relationships go both ways no matter your level of experience. Always offer something in return even if you think it will means nothing to them. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, said it best, “It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.” People will notice when you go out of your way to help, while not expecting anything in return.
Three Key Traits: Be Genuine, Trustworthy and Available
Experienced professionals and executives can quickly evaluate if they would hire someone or not. According to a survey done by the HR Firm, Come Recommended, 33% of hiring professionals know if they would hire a person within the first 90 seconds of meeting them. You must make a great first impression in your initial meeting and maintain a high level of professionalism and respect during each interaction. Genuinely appreciate their time and advice while remembering that building relationships takes time. Rarely do opportunities come from an initial meeting but making that impression is important. It is essential to develop that relationship because there may be opportunities to connect in the future.
Being able to trust someone may be the most important trait in any relationship. If you show that you can be counted on to come through in any situation, people take notice and will look to you when important things need to be done. Author and businessman Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” The foundation of trust is not built after a single interaction; it grows throughout multiple experiences.
Availability is a huge characteristic every aspiring professional needs to have. Making yourself available goes a long way in building a relationship. Whether it is being where industry leaders are or giving someone your time, this can have a major impact. You can put yourself in situations to advance your career by attending conferences and social gatherings where professionals are present. When you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back and that makes an impression.
Always Remember Who Helped
As time passes and the relationship strengthens, it is important to maintain a level of loyalty and appreciation for that person. Down the road, you may be in a position to help them in a specific career situation. Never lose sight of how this person helped you and what kind of mentor he or she was. Relationships are meant to last and no matter what position you attain in your career, never forget who helped you get there. Remain genuine, trustworthy and available as we mentioned in the previous section. Be willing to pay it forward and do the same thing for someone else when they reach out for help. Having strong relationships is essential to progressing your career forward.
Why Should You Attend Conferences and Events? Here are 6 ReasonsMost people have attended at least one conference or event before. Whether it is for their employer or for personal interest, conferences have become one of the best ways for people to learn about certain subjects while simultaneously growing their network. In fact, in 2012, there were over 284,000 conferences and events in the US with a total of 87 million attendees, according to a study “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy, Pricewaterhouse Coopers”
Even still, there are people that question whether it is worth their time and money to attend a conference or event. Of course it’s always smart to extensively research the conference prior to attending and figure out if your ROI (Return on Investment) will be worth it. Once you’ve done your due diligence, you really have two choices: attend or don’t attend. Here are six reasons why the former could advance your career and your life.
1. Learn something
Regardless of whether you are an expert in your industry or simply trying to break into it, there’s always more to learn. There is only so much you can learn from studying a certain subject. At some point, you need to take action and get firsthand experience. Listening and interacting with industry experts can open your eyes to new concepts and open doors for your career path. The best conferences have Q&A sessions for you to ask questions and get advice from speakers as well.
Attending a conference or event is one of the best ways to get inspired. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals and meeting top executives in your field can spark that fire within you to succeed or reignite a flame if things have become stagnant. Having the opportunity to not only listen and learn from speakers, but also meet and connect with them can motivate you to work hard and obtain that same type of success. Conferences with networking socials, like TPG Sports Group’s Pro Scout School, make these types of connections much easier.
3. Keep up to date with new trends
Most industries are constantly changing and it is hard for a lot of people to keep up. Frequently attending conferences or events pertaining to your industry helps keep you up-to-date and on top of the cutting-edge trends. The best conferences will usually reveal a new idea or piece of information that will put you ahead of everyone in your industry that chose not to attend. Sometimes you will even learn about a new concept outside of your industry that may spark an idea or translate into something useful for you. Continuing to learn and utilize new industry trends is always a good idea for staying ahead of the game.
4. Networking opportunities
One of the most beneficial reasons to attend conferences and events is to meet new people and build your network. You can learn all you want about a subject, but you’re still going to need the right connections to get to where you want to go. “Networking is great but making a ‘connection’ is most important,” said TPG President and Director of International Scouting for the Indiana Pacers, Pete Philo. Conferences afford you the opportunity to meet and connect with many like-minded individuals who are either pursuing the same path you are or just wanting to get better. “The real value at networking socials is the ratio of attendees to speakers and companies. At TPG, we strive to keep the attendee/speaker ratio at 4:1 to ensure attendees are getting the most out of our events.” Meeting and networking with speakers and industry professionals is an obvious benefit of attending a conference, but befriending your peers at the conference could prove to be just as valuable.
5. Meet experts in the industry
Conferences are primarily about learning, but it’s also smart to come prepared since you never know whom you might end up meeting. Getting in front of the right person and presenting your ideas could be your chance to shine. There’s a great quote from Pat Zipfel, Advance Scout for the Chicago Bulls, from the 2014 Pro Scout School conference that illustrates the benefit of getting your name and face out there. “Everyone always says it’s about who you know. I would say it’s more about who knows you.” Being able to meet, ask questions, get feedback and gain advice from the people you look up to in your field is invaluable. For example, the 2015 Pro Scout School lineup of speakers can’t be beat if you’re looking to become a basketball scout, coach, general manager or are simply a basketball enthusiast.
6. Show off your work
Every conference is a little different but in addition to having networking socials, the best ones allow attendees to exhibit their knowledge and talent as well. This could be through a Q&A session, intimate breakout rooms, reviewed scouting reports, etc. There are many creative ways for a conference to allow attendees to express themselves and impress their role models. Using Pro Scout School as another example, TPG utilizes several methods to involve attendees. We have a Q&A session where attendees can ask any panelist questions. There are smaller breakout rooms on the second day of the conference so that attendees can have a better learning experience centered on their interests. Attendees can submit reports to professionals and get constructive criticism. We even offer a ‘GM Experience’ this year where 20 attendees will have the opportunity to connect with NBA general managers and possibly jumpstart their career. Implementing these types of things into an event makes the ROI even greater for attendees. It’s up to you to take advantage of these types of events and conferences and be prepared.
So, now you know what to look for in a conference or event and exactly why you should be attending them. When you think about the alternative, it really makes sense to be in attendance.