It’s right there at the top of the page, on every page you see on this site. “NBA Salary Cap, Playbooks, and Scouting Reports” is the all-seeing eye that governs the content I bring to you here on Early Bird Rights. The Salary Cap work is obvious, it’s what most people know the site for at this point. Playbook posts were rampant throughout the playoffs after the site launched in April and will pick back up as soon as the 2018-19 regular season starts in a few days. What has been missing over the last six months are Scouting Reports, which have been mostly weaved into my writing but never had a real home the way the other two pillars do. That changes today with the launch of the Scouting section of the site.
There are two sections of the Scouting section of the site: the individual player page and the player comparison tool. The names are pretty self-explanatory, but in case they’re not, the individual player page shows you full information and attributes for a single player, while the player comparison tool lets you compare two players’ attributes while giving you other pertinent information – team, age, preferred position and role, and contract status.
A few of the cells are editable and are marked with a green background. On the individual player page, you can search for any of the 441 players who are currently in the database (I’ll be adding to this list as the season progresses) and find their information and grades on 28 different attributes, graded from 1-25. Immediately upon searching for a player, a handful of the attributes will be highlighted in blue or gray – these are primary and secondary attributes, respectively, for the position and role that player plays. The other green boxes give you the ability to change these highlights – say you’d like to know how Eric Gordon would play as a Secondary Playmaker rather than a Floor Spacer. Simply enter replace “Floor Spacer” with “Secondary Playmaker” in the green box and different attributes will be highlighted, showing you which attributes are key to the combination of position and role you’ve chosen. The same applies on the player comparison tool, where you can choose two players to compare across the various positions and roles.
There are five positions: Point, Combo, Wing, Forward, and Big. These are the same five positions used by Ben Falk to group players by position on Cleaning the Glass, but the assignments aren’t identical across the two sites. There are six possible offensive roles across the five positions: Primary Playmaker, Secondary Playmaker, Floor Spacer, and Scorer are available for Points, Combos, Wings, and Forwards, with Bigs using a separate list: Vertical Spacer, Playmaker, Scorer, and Floor Spacer. For the most part, the position a player holds is his defensive assignment, and the role he’s prescribed is how he fits in on the offensive side of the ball.
Attributes are graded with a massive combination of my own eye test, my conversations about players with people I trust throughout the basketball world, from other media members to scouts and coaches, and statistical analysis provided by a host of different sites. These grades are always subject to change and will constantly be tweaked throughout the year – I imagine I’ll be opening up the file and moving things around on a near-daily basis, especially early in the year. Players with less NBA experience, especially the newly-drafted rookies, will likely see their attributes moving all over the place early in the year as new information arrives about how they’re acclimating to the NBA. These grades are not final impressions to be taken as gospel for how a player’s career will play out; they’re solely to judge where a player is right now, with massive changes in both directions possible for just about everybody over the years. Grades are not curved to the player’s individual position or role, they’re graded on a league-wide basis.