Basketball / Sports

Commentary: Teams now look for NBA draft prospects with solid character

CHICAGO -- When I arrived at the Quest Sports Complex on Friday, one of my favorite scouts in the league was seated courtside.

After a hearty hug, I asked him what he likes about the 2014 draft class -- particularly those he had met with at the NBA draft combine.

Though he requested anonymity while discussing league matters, he said there are good players and added: "There are a lot of good kids here, not a lot of headaches."

That is music to executives' ears.

The scout was referring to what front-office types are increasingly stressing -- character matters.

If a player's character allows management to sleep well at night, that's almost as important as his athletic talent.

Teams are willing to tolerate megatalents, but if things are equal, they could let perceived character be the deciding factor.

Australian Dante Exum, a potential top-three pick, is one of the players who showed his intelligence and poise at the combine. The Pistons got that impression after a Wednesday night meeting.

"I just try and take one step at a time, and I guess be humble in everything I'm going through and try to stay focused," the point guard said.

"Going in, I'm just trying to portray I'm mature and I'm ready to take the next step."

But he was present Friday. He seated himself between Pistons executives Ken Catanella and George David to scout drills. He spent a lot of time talking to media members.

He also greeted prospects walking the hallways -- apologizing for missing meetings with the Pistons that occurred before he arrived. One of those players was Creighton's Doug McDermott.

"He's going to do big things there," said McDermott.

(c)2014 Detroit Free Press

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