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A Guide to NBA Roles, Part II


The personnel involved in running a team


Beyond the more visible front-office staff, each team also employs a number of staff members to serve on the ground. NBA teams have an extensive range of coaching personnel, to serve the various functions required for a team. One example of a low-profile but indispensable role is that of team scout. The scouts are required to have an in-depth knowledge of basketball and many connections, and this is a job that necessitates a lot of hours spent on the road. There are two types of scouts in general: the talent scout and the advance scout.


The talent scout is in charge of scouting prospects, and assessing their long-term potential. This is a long process that can start years before they are eligible for the League. With the globalization of the game in recent times, professional NBA scouts have started to pop up all across the world as well, rather than being confined to just the collegiate game. This can be a difficult job, as scouts need to project the trajectories of young players and to assess them based on intangibles such as work ethic and motivation as well. Scouts are also involved in the G League and in identifying free agents to fill team needs.


For advance scouts, their scouting function pertains to opposing teams. Instead of young talent, they spend their time looking at the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. This can include very detailed information, such as the tendencies of individual players and even the hand gestures used in calling plays. Thus, these scouts play an invaluable role in film sessions as well.


In the modern era, the roles of these scouts are complemented by data analytics. Huge amounts of data are available to NBA teams, for instance showing a player’s shooting percentages on open and contested shots all over the court. Some teams employ data analysts to try and gain an edge over their opponents through playing a more efficient brand of basketball, representing a movement that has gained steam in recent years.