Interview with a Sports Professional: Dave Babcock, Milwaukee Bucks' Director of Player Personnel

by Cory Dobbs, Ed.D. 10-22-2011 03:01 PM

With the NBA lockout in full swing, many of the behind the scenes team executives have a little spare time on their hands. I caught up with Dave Babcock, Director of Player Personnel for the Milwaukee Bucks, and asked a few questions with an angle toward player leadership. 

Cory Dobbs: Dave, assuming talent is a given, what types of intangibles do you look for when scouting college players and how do those intangibles transfer to the next level of play?
Dave Babcock: Coachability, work ethic, character on the floor and off, competitiveness, ability to be a good teammate, self-discipline, unselfishness.
Some NBA players can be hard to coach, so when you get a team of coachable guys you have a much better chance for success.  Obviously, if you have guys that are willing to work in season and off they will improve at a much faster rate than the more laid back individual.  Character is bigger for most teams than people think
For example: we (Bucks) made the playoffs the year before last and brought back the same core for last season.  But with the addition of two new players with somewhat lower character, we did not make the playoffs last season.  With so much talent in the NBA, to win the extra games you need the competitive players to fight through the long season and tough travel.  The season is so long and you spend so much time with your team that it is very important to have guys that can get along!  Being self-disciplined is so important with diet, sleep management, time management, and overall life management.  Again, you have so many talented star type players in the NBA, that if you can have a group of unselfish guys, it can will you a lot of games.
Cory: Having studied and scouted players have you noticed if players with certain personalities gravitate toward leadership roles?
Dave: I am of the opinion that leaders are born and not made.  Brain types and personality traits are very apparent when evaluating this in college players.  I think you can improve certain players' leadership abilities, but you cannot make a true leader out of any player.  True leaders are not easy to find and are big factors in evaluating the draft.  The best leader we have had in my 14 years in Milwaukee is T.J. Ford.  On the other hand, we have had star players who you think would be leaders, but were/are not (Ray Allen, Glen Robinson, Andrew Bogut).
Cory: As a former college basketball coach what might you do differently regarding player development if you were coaching today?
Dave: Even though I thought I did more than most coaches with individual work, I wish I had emphasized it even more.  I see how much we improve players in the NBA with individual work and the effect it has on our team productivity.  Also, I wish I had been more proactive in teaching nutrition and body preparedness outside of weight training.
Cory Dobbs is the Founder and President of The Academy for Sport Leadership, a national leader in curriculum development and programs for developing sports team leaders.

Published 10-22-2011 © 2024 Access Athletes, LLC


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