Kerr spends a lot of time scouting opposing teams and players such as the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.
(Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
Since the advent of fantasy basketball, everybody believes that they can be a GM. Most fans have visions of a man maniacally working deals on the phone and using a staff of MIT grads to crack stats. So in order to dispel all (most) the myths, Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr told Suns.com what his days are like.
Today we have our entire scouting department in from all around the country so we met this morning, went to lunch and sat together during practice. We talked about the college kids they’ve been watching thus far this season.
Griff runs our scouting department so he’s really in charge, but I get involved as the process goes on and those guys tell me who I need to see. I start branching out and seeing different games as the season goes on. I would say by the end of the college season I will have seen 30 or 40 games. Of course, we also watch a ton of tape in the war room as well.
Ultimately when the draft comes, I rely heavily on the scouting department. That’s what those guys do all year long, and I have faith in them.
But in the end, the decision is going to stick with me and whatever the decision is, good or bad, it’s going to go on my resume. So we have a very healthy dialogue especially the final two months before the draft. We’re evaluating those guys on a daily basis. We’re interviewing them, watching tape and debating in the war room.
The big thing that I want is to build consensus with our guys and sometimes it’s a painstaking process, but it’s a healthy one. And I like to have differing opinions and varying thoughts, and then once we make the decision, we’re all on board and there’s no looking back. The tough thing about talent evaluation is that nobody is right all the time. In fact, in this business if you can be right better than half the time, then you’ve done well. You do all the research you can, but in the end you still don’t quite know how a player will fare.
On the Road
I travel a lot, whether it’s with our team or scouting college games. When I’m on the road, it’s much quieter than it is in the office.
I bring my laptop and I do most of my work from the hotel room. It’s almost solely e-mail and phone calls when I’m on the road in terms of communicating with the team and the coaching staff.
It’s a big part of the job, talking to the guys, making sure they’re feeling good about our team and observing the chemistry and the unity. One of the most satisfying feelings with this year’s team has been standing in hotel lobbies, watching 8 to 10 of our players heading out together to go grab dinner. We have a very close group, which is one of the reasons we have a good team. Those guys play hard for each other.
I don’t always travel on the road with our team especially now that the college season is in full swing. I went on the early East Coast trip and the recent trip to L.A. and Dallas, but for the most part I just pick my spots during the year. Sometimes I’ll just hitch a ride on our team plane in order to get to a college game somewhere nearby.
I go to a lot of ASU games. Anytime anybody comes through that has a potential pro, I’ll go over and watch ASU. Or I’ll go down to Tucson a couple of times to watch U of A. But it’s nice to be able to just drive over to Tempe and scout. The last couple of years, the Pac 10 has been loaded with NBA talent, so it’s been easy to see a lot of players right in our own backyard.
It’s also fun to see different strategies that teams are employing, and to see where the game is trending. Even though I’m a Wildcat, I enjoy watching Herb Sendak’s zone defense at ASU. So even when I’m not scouting, I keep an eye on what’s going on out there at the college and pro level.
I’m not a stat wonk, but Griff and Amin (Assistant Director of Basketball Operation Amin El-Hassan) are both heavily into stats and we’ll have those discussions sometimes. I’m not really into +/- as I am into what lineups are playing well together and why.
So we’ll discuss those internally and this year has been trickier because we’re having more people play significant minutes.
Because we’re trying to develop the younger guys and because we’re relying more heavily on our depth, we had a lot more lineups this year. So we’re looking at those stats.
Sometimes I’ll notice a trend during the game and have it investigated. I was watching the Denver game the other night and I wanted to know what a certain success rate was with certain lineups on the floor so I sent a text to Amin and he did the background research. There are some great websites where that information is easily accessible, and both Amin and Griff do a great job evaluating our team and studying statistical trends.