European players are usually more skilled than Americans, says Brooklyn Nets scout

Danko Cvjeticanin

Lukas Korynta is a basketball writer from the Czech Republic and a poster on NetsDaily. He recently interviewed the Nets international scout, Danko Cvjeticanin, who recommended the Nets draft Bojan Bogdanovic, Tornike Shengelia and Ilkan Karaman. Here is his report, first published in INHED.cz, a Czech website.

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His name is Danko Cvjeticanin and he happens to be working as a NBA scout. The 49-year-old Cvjeticanin is a former basketball player, currently working as a director of European Scouting for the Brooklyn Nets. "Our job is about predicting," says the owner of two Olympic silver medals who was looking for young talent during the FIBA U-19 world championships in the Czech capital of Prague.

As a man in employ of a club that's owned by a Russian, Cvjeticanin says the Nets have a European spirit. "American coaches are starting to realize that in terms of game fundamentals the Europeans are usually more skilled than Americans," says Cvjeticanin.

Lets explain what does a NBA agent do, what is your profession about?

"NBA scouting is a profession that includes judging and predicting. Judging like to see who the player is and predicting like who he will be. That's our job. I'm looking at players from different perspective like mental conditions, physical and athletic abilities and after all I'm looking for the skills. That's what basketball is all about, skills."

Can you describe your workflow? Do you watch the tapes? Are you taking notes?

"I make my schedule for a year, but the most important is summer, because I can see which players are getting better and to see how good they'll be. I take notes during the game and when I'm really interested in somebody I can order some DVDs. It's not always necessary, because the club can always order the tapes anytime in the future."

Are you always prepared or sometimes you just go blindly to see who will step up in the game?

"Many times I am prepared and I go to see exactly particular player but sometimes I see somebody next to him who catch my eye. Then I'll take notes about him too and follow him afterwards."

Which principles are the most important to describe a talented player?


"Everything is the mix of experiences (I was a basketball player), basketball knowledge and imagination. The most important is prediction. Especially for young players who don't spend too much time on the court. When you like somebody and he plays only ten or fifteen minutes per game, it's too little sample to judge. That's where you have to use your imagination and predict his future right."

When Michael Jordan was coming to the NBA, his scouting report looked like one small piece of paper with couple of sentences, it's a whole different story nowadays. What has change in your profession because of technology?

"I've been working as a scout for sixteen years and I must admit it has changed a lot.

"There is the service like Synergy Sports, where you can analyze almost everything about a player. You can cut every video, see different situations, that saves a lot of time. Sometimes you can't see everything during the game, especially if a player doesn't play much. About Jordan, it is interesting that he wasn't a good scorer on college. But then again, he then became the best scorer ever. Like every other profession, even the scouts are only human beings and we make mistakes (smiles)."

How important are scouts for professional teams these days?

"In my experience it depends on the club a lot. For example it is very important for the Nets organization to keep and eye on young players, especially on those from Europe. We have a Russian owner and it brings that kind of European spirit to the club. That doesn't mean international players do have it easy. It's actually the opposite. When I put a name on the table, there are hundreds of American players who are more interesting for the club."

Can you compare international players who grow up playing Eurocup or Euroloeague and compete against professionals to American players who go to college?

"Many American coaches realize and they also agree with the fact that European players are usually more skilled than Americans. They understand game much better in terms of shooting decisions, understanding the defense, ball movement. European coaches are really good about the fundamentals. On the other hand, American players are great athletes."

Coach Popovich once said that he likes international players better, because they work harder for the team. Was he right?

"I really admire his work, he really is special coach. He like to use the European style and he has a good connection to his scouts. The Spurs are one of the best in the field in terms of international scouting which really fits the organization's vision."

In the U-19 world championships, Team USA won the gold medal, defeating Serbia, 82-68, with Cvjeticanin in attendance.

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