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Volume 21 No. 1
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Ryan Blake, senior director, NBA scouting operations

The NBA recently held its pre-draft combine and next month will hold its annual player draft. Those events highlight the work of Ryan Blake, senior director of NBA scouting operations, who follows in the footsteps of his father, the late Marty Blake, who was renowned for his ability to identify players from all corners of the globe. With more than 29 years of scouting experience of his own, Ryan Blake now leads the way in getting evaluations to teams to help them identify potential players throughout the world.

— Compiled by John Lombardo


I tell players that they have to be their own agent and that they shouldn’t expect that everything is going to be done for them.

A new era:
My dad had his own database even before there were computers. We’d write these books on players before anyone else, but now, we don’t have to grind as much anymore. There are advanced analytics, and watching video of players is much easier because of the technology.

Sorting through it all: I read a lot, and you wouldn’t be doing your job if you weren’t looking at it all, but I go by [the information compiled by] myself and my staff [more than 30 part-time scouts, one full-time employee and two interns]. We go through all these mock drafts, but you can’t evaluate a draft until after three years. Every year you worry that there will be someone drafted we don’t know about, but luckily, that hasn’t happened. So far, so good.

What teams need to do: Every team should have an analytical guy. You can get so much data and statistics. It is not just about what your player is doing, but what his opponent is doing also. All that kind of data is available, and everything is immediate now.

A global focus: Everyone should have an international scout. It takes time to go overseas, but with the increase in technology, and with the increase in the popularity of international basketball, it is making it easier [to scout players].

An inexact science: [Scouting] will always be an inexact science because you just don’t know what is inside somebody. Every team is doing a background check on what your guy is like, but you never know how some players will adapt to the NBA way of life. You want to find out if a player can keep up his confidence. You are making an investment and a highly educated guess, but there are things you just can’t know about a person.

Interacting with players: I am not allowed to be in touch with players until they are fully draft eligible. Players can contact me for any type of advice. So many young men don’t know what is coming next. This is their dream, and I try to give as much advice as I can.