BOSTON (CBS) – 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak spoke with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who told the guys Wednesday afternoon that he looks for “transferable” skills in NBA prospects, and both he and the team’s talent evaluators are in lock step with what they’re looking for in a player in next month’s draft.
But first, Andy Gresh was curious to know Stevens’ mindset today after a disappointing outcome in last night’s NBA Draft Lottery.
Echoing the same sentiments as president Danny Ainge, Stevens was mostly positive about the results of the lottery, and is more upset with having to watch the postseason from home.
“By the time you’re sitting there, not in the playoffs and you’re watching the lottery, you’re disappointed you’re not in the playoffs first and foremost. I think no. 6 is what we were predicted to be, or at least that was our best chance at no. 5 or 6. I’m not all that surprised. Certainly it’s a surprise that Cleveland vaults all the way to no. 1 with a two percent chance or whatever they had.
“There’s a lot of good players in this draft, and obviously picking at no. 6 and 17 hopefully we can get guys that can help us. I certainly think from what I’ve seen that there are those guys out there.”
Stevens was then asked to comment about the Kevin Love rumors, but league rules prohibit him from doing so. Speaking in general terms, Stevens says he doesn’t pay attention to the speculation and rumors, and only goes by what’s discussed with Ainge and his staff.
The 37-year-old head coach just concluded his first season in the professional ranks having spent the entirety of his career in college at Butler University. Because of his college background, Stevens believes he might have a leg up on other NBA coaches in scouting prospects.
After talking about college recruiting and how it compares to the vetting process at the NBA level, Stevens talked about what he looks for in a prospect leading up to the June draft. One phrase that kept appearing throughout the discussion was “transferable qualities.”
“Sometimes you can get enamored with who’s coming in, but you forget who they have to guard or who they have to play against. You may see a trait that you think is transferable. Anytime you’re in a situation where you’re recruiting from one level to the next, or you’re evaluating from one level to the next — in college it’s bringing in guys from high school, here it’s bringing in guys from college or overseas — you have to really, really figure out what transfers. What transferable qualities do they have? Obviously it’s a step up from an athletic perspective.”
“I want guys who are passionate about the game and want to compete at a high level. Not necessarily guys who have won at the highest level, but have shown a desire to. … Obviously there are a great deal of physical and skill traits you look for as well. However it happens this summer, our focus is we need to get better protecting the rim from a defensive standpoint, and I think we need to continue to increase our skill, whether it’s by the draft, by trade or development — you can do all three of those ways.”
In the modern NCAA, rare is the NBA prospect that stays all four years in college.
Prospects like Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who stayed all four years, have become the exception and not the rule. In some cases, a senior like McDermott has 100 more game films to watch and analyze over a top freshman — so scouting is as challenging now as ever before.
Stevens kept going back to this “transferable qualities” aspect.
“Guys that have been there in college three or four years may be more ready to play an exact role in the NBA. Then you talk about guys that have been there one or two years, maybe they’re not as ready to play an exact role, but their ceiling suggests they’re worth taking them on. That’s something you really have to dig deep, figure out what they’re all about, figure out their makeup and where they can be.
“When you look at certain guys, the biggest thing is does he have a transferable skill right now? If he doesn’t then he’s got to have a high upside, and certainly a willingness, desire and a proven work ethic to get better.”
Stevens finished the interview saying, “Danny [Ainge] has a great track record in the draft” and he trusts the organization to make the right choices this offseason.
Listen below for the full interview”