Spurs make NBA's latest innovative front office hire

Spurs make NBA's latest innovative front office hire
September 1, 2013, 11:15 am
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The San Antonio Spurs are the latest NBA team to think outside the talent evaluation box.

Yahoo! Sports reports that the Spurs have hired prep recruiting analyst Dave Telep. The former ESPNer will serve in a "scouting coordinator role" under general manager R.C. Buford. Telep recently left the cable network before latching on with San Antonio.

Last season the Grizzlies hired NBA statistical analyst John Hollinger as the team's VP of basketball operations. Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) fingerprints were all over Memphis' controversial deal that shipped high scoring and highly paid forward Rudy Gay to Toronto. The Grizzlies eventually reached the Western Conference Finals.

Recently, the Utah Jazz hired former player agent Justin Zanak as the team's assistant general manager. Zanak worked for ASM Sports the sports that represents Wizards Trevor Booker and Eric Maynor plus NBA notables Kevin Garnett, Serge Ibaka and rookie Nerlens Noel.

In the case of Telep, this is a clear nod toward the constant influx of college freshmen entering the draft. High School talent scouts evaluate players like projected 2014 lottery picks Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) and Jabari Parker (Duke) anywhere from 2-4 years if not more before the prospect sniffs the draft. NBA scouts are now forced to watch High School games in addition their college responsibilities.

However, there are many layers beyond the mere actual prep games, most notably the always AAU circuit. The Spurs new hire has lived in those dicey waters for years and therefore intimately knows the "players" involved, meaning coaches and other handlers in addition to college coaches. How that translates to NBA success is another matter and innovative is not the same as correct - but it sure is interesting.

The Wizards lost two members of their front office this season, including VP of player personnel Milt Newton, who this past week took the GM job with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Washington went the traditional route by hiring Oklahoma City Thunder scout Frank Ross when director of player personnel Pat Connelly bolted for the Phoenix Suns.