We already know that the NFL Draft will look a lot different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA Draft may end up in a similar situation. Beyond how it looks, though, the people making draft decisions are going to have to lean on different scouting strategies this year.
NFL pro days have been canceled, and teams have essentially halted all travel for team employees. That means that, aside from their NFL Combine interactions, teams are going to be relying on tape to scout players. As executives have explained to Tom Pelissero, this could lead to significant issues.
The challenge created by elimination of most pro days, workouts, etc., as team executives explain it:
30-40% of players on a team’s draft board won’t have verified measurements
15-20% won’t have a medical grade
As one exec told me: “Some teams are really gonna f*** this up.” https://t.co/nHuY5EYu25
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 27, 2020
NBA teams also fear that in-person interviews and workouts will be scrubbed by similar travel restrictions. NBA scouts and executives are at even more of a disadvantage, as the cancellation of postseason tournaments deprived them of chances to see top prospects in pressure environments against top competition.
One executive told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher that it will be a draft heavy on scouting, and it would “expose” GMs who had not seriously put in the legwork during the season.
“This is a basketball person’s draft, based on actual basketball play,” the executive said. “The high-ranking decision-makers who have been working all year aren’t going to miss a beat. It’s going to expose the GMs who were flying around with their teams staying in Four Seasons rather than going [to scout] in Dayton, Ohio, and staying at the Courtyard Marriott. If there are no more data points coming in, they’re screwed.”
There is already speculation that one prospect could be hurt by the complications that could come with the process. Executives in both leagues are dealing with similar problems, and it will be a massive challenge for them to deal with as the pandemic continues.