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Anonymous Scouts Takes: Previewing All 30 NBA Teams

How do scouts feel about your team? What about your favorite player? The Crossover spoke with scouts around the NBA to give their honest takes.
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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Crossover spoke with scouts from around the league in advance of the 2019–20 season. Their answers, which examine all 30 teams, are brutally honest in assessing all things basketball.

CHICAGO BULLS

Jim Boylen didn’t have a lot of time to implement his stuff [after Fred Hoiberg was fired in December]. He’s had a full offseason, full camp. This is his chance to put his imprint on the team. . . . Zach LaVine is not super committed defensively, but offensively he’s really hard to go against. He’s a Lou Williams type. He tried a little harder after the mutiny last year. He’s not the most wiling passer. Teams will continue to trap him to make it hard. . . . With Lauri Markkanen, the talent is there. Is the toughness going to be there? He looks like he added weight. If you physically feel strong, it becomes easier to be mentally strong. If he is willing to compete, you can throw him at the five and cause havoc. . . . Wendell Carter Jr. had the right disposition last season. He played hard and didn’t back down. He showed flashes of a post game, he can put the ball on the floor. . . . Swapping out Jabari Parker for Otto Porter was a huge upgrade. In Washington, there were times Porter was the best player on the floor. He’s a great transition guy. If they want to play with speed and pace, he’s a weapon. . . . If Carter can shoot the ball, Thaddeus Young will be pretty effective beside him. You can play him as a five offensively and have him guard fours. To me they will have to figure out how they want to play offensively with two big guys. I assume they’ll do a fair amount of five-out, dribble handoffs, creating gaps and stretching the defense.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

They’re in a tough position having all this money tied up; they have good young players, but I don’t know if it’s enough to slide into the playoffs or not. They’re caught in that spot where they’re building for the future but don’t have that flexibility in terms of money. . . . The big factor here is Andrew Wiggins. What does he do? Does he have the mentality to take a team to the next level? Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be good. I don’t know if you can measure everything by pure numbers. He’s an All-Star, he’s really good. But in terms of leadership and things between Wiggins and Towns—do they have the mentality to be able to will a team? . . . It’s nice that Jeff Teague comes off the books next year, and eventually Gorgui Dieng will, and then they’ll have a little flexibility. But if Towns and Wiggins are your top two guys, are you gonna get a free agent to come? It’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to grab somebody else. Jimmy Butler was the perfect guy to help at times, but then he rubbed them the wrong way because they’re not built like that. . . . I like these young guys. Jarrett Culver will be a good fit for them, and I’ve always liked Josh Okogie. I’m a big fan—he’s solid gold. Jaylen Nowell could even add value for them. Robert Covington is still solid. But it’s such a tough year in the Western Conference, and if you don’t have the guys to give you that edge night in and night out, it’s going to be tough.

TORONTO RAPTORS

Because of their depth, and with Pascal Siakam’s development, I can see them having another good regular season. They don’t have a true No. 1 option, but they have a few really good No. 2s. . . . Siakam could be an All-Star. He is a two-way, impactful player. The nonstop motor is what stands out. I don’t know who to compare him to. He’s going to have to show he can catch-and-shoot. He’ll get better because the opportunities will be there. . . . Kyle Lowry has been through everything. He’s so tough. He is going to be asked to carry them more, and I don’t know if he can do it. He’s lost a step. . . . A full season with Marc Gasol will help. Marc is very similar to Al Horford, where you can play a lot of offense through him. He’s going to have to pick up some of the playmaking that Kawhi did. Early on they may have to watch his workload, like all those guys that played in the World Cup. He’s older, but Marc’s game will decline smoothly. . . . Serge Ibaka is still a solid complementary guy, but he’s more of a small five now. They had the lineup to match up against big teams and small, and Ibaka was a big part of that because he can shoot. . . . I’m not a huge fan of OG Anunoby. He’s strong and projects as a three-and-D guy, but I don’t know how dynamic he is with the ball. . . . We’re going to see what Fred Vanvleet is capable of. He showed great grit in the playoffs. He’s not a tremendous playmaker, but the shooting, the confidence, the swagger—that really rubbed off on them.

MIAMI HEAT

How many games is Jimmy Butler playing? He’s not going to play 82. They gave up so much depth to get Jimmy, he got paid, and there’s nothing for him to prove now. The question I’ve kicked around is, Is this team better than Jimmy’s last team in Chicago [in 2016–17]? And that team was an eight seed in the East. Jimmy cannibalizes possessions. When he’s your top guy, I don’t know how good you are. I’m surprised nobody’s coined the term Jimmyball: You win with Jimmy, you lose with Jimmy. . . . I have so much respect for Erik Spoesltra. They played more zone than anyone last year, and it just helped them junk up and get wins. They’re gonna win games they’re not supposed to. . . . I really like Tyler Herro. He can shoot, and he knows how to read defenses. All the stuff they ran for Wayne Ellington, they can just plug Tyler in. They do a better job than anyone when it comes to freeing up shooters with screening action. . . . Bam Adebayo is such a physical presence. You can tell he’s not afraid of the moment. He can handle a little bit. He can take a couple of dribbles and pass it up. In the half-court he’s a little more skilled than [last year’s center] Hassan Whiteside. I don’t know if Bam has the skill-set to get into the elite, elite center conversation. He’s just not quite big enough to be the defensive dominant guy to get into the Gobert/Towns/Embiid/Jokić sector, but he’s next on that list. You’re happy he’s on your team.

USA Today

USA Today

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Giannis’s passing was better. He was more willing and definitely more accurate. His rebounding improved, but part of that was Brook Lopez. A lot of guys have career rebounding years playing alongside Lopez because all he does is block out. . . . Early last year Giannis was playing more like a big, then they basically said, “F--- it, let him handle more and attack.” They ran a lot of small-on-big pick-and-rolls. George Hill was good at it. He was with LeBron, he knew how to play that way. . . . Khris Middleton was consistent in his effort to defend. That team can win with him as a No. 2. Giannis is that good. His gravitational pull is immense. It’s like the sun. Everything tilts towards him defensively. . . . I don’t think losing Malcolm Brogdon is a big hit. He was great in the playoffs, but he was getting the fifth-best defender most nights. Defensively he is a big body and is smart, so they do have to replace that. . . . Wes Matthews didn’t look great last year, but it’s hard to say when you play in situations like Dallas and New York. . . . Kyle Korver looked like he was nearing the end. Maybe he has a new life playing for a coach who believes in him. . . . Eric Bledsoe is going to have nights when you wonder where he is. They have a chance to play for something big. Does that matter to him? His finishing was at an extremely high level last season. I’ll be interested to see if he plays with the same effort. He cruises a lot. And when he does, he’s a liability.

INDIANA PACERS

Swapping Bojan Bogdanovic for Malcolm Brogdon is a downgrade. Brogdon just isn’t that kind of scorer. Nate McMillan does a good job keeping the offense simple. You are not going to see Brogdon running off screens like Bogdanovic. When they get Victor Oladipo back, the two together should work out decently. But it’s asking a lot if you want Brogdon to be a top scorer. . . . At times Domantis Sabonis and Myles Turner worked well together. When Sabonis comes in, they can play five-out and have him as a facilitator. It diversifies the offense. But if they are together, one of them has to be a perimeter threat. Otherwise it doesn’t work. . . . You don’t realize it, but Sabonis is really strong. Super skilled, but his strength makes it really hard to go against him. When he puts his body on you, it’s a challenge. . . . Jeremy Lamb is super soft. He’s kind of a tease. He’s a good shooter but not a great shooter. He probably had about as good a year as he could have last season. He bails out of plays when there is a chance to show some toughness. . . . It’s clear with Nate: You’ve got to guard here. If T.J. Warren does that, he can be a weapon for them offensively. Midrange has been his thing, but he shot the hell out of the ball from three. He has a little more ability to get to the rim, bang home threes, shoot those pull-ups. . . . Last year you started seeing defenses try to take Oladipo out of things. But he [got] better going to his left and better handling traps.