The NCAA tournament begins Thursday, and while millions of college basketball fans around the country will be huddled around their respective televisions salivating over every move, they won’t be the only ones.
NBA teams send scouts to games all season long, but the 64-team tournament is certainly a prime opportunity for front office personnel to evaluate talented prospects on the grandest of stages.
Suns president Lon Babby will certainly have his eyes on the Big Dance, as his franchise is headed to its third straight appearance in the draft lottery. But the question remains: How much does an impressive tournament run elevate a player’s draft stock come June?
“I talk to (Suns general manager) Lance Blanks about that a lot, and you’ve got both sides of the argument,” Babby told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Wednesday. “You can’t ignore, I suppose, when a player performs well at the most important time.
“But on the other hand, you can’t discount the full body of work based on a couple of games in March. That’s the challenge.”
Babby noted that overvaluing an impressive March performance is just one of many challenges a team has to guard against during the draft process.
“One of the things that happens in the process, and we’ve avoided it here and will continue to do so, is a lot of times coaches get involved,” said Babby. “The head coach for example in many places has no opportunity to see or scout college basketball. Then the player comes in for a workout and the coach is enamored with that player and that really undermines the work all the scouts have done the entire season.
“So, you’ve got to be cautious about those things. You want input from everybody, including your coach staff, but you’ve got to make sure it’s integrated and woven into the entire body of work that you’re analyzing.”
The point being, don’t expect the Suns to simply draft a player based on their one shining moment — whether it be in the Big Dance or in a pre-draft workout.