NBA teams haven’t been averse to looking outside of the traditional front office structure in order to continue growing in the world of player evaluation and analytics.
For instance, the Memphis Grizzlies snatched John Hollinger (who created PER) away from ESPN and inserted him into a high-level position that he still occupies after nearly five seasons, and the Milwaukee Bucks recently tapped analytics expert Seth Partnow as the franchise’s director of basketball research.
Now, the Toronto Raptors are joining the fraternity when it comes to looking to the media for this kind of influence, as the team announced on Friday that Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated has been hired as the director of prospect strategy.
In a team release, the Raptors indicated that Winn will “research and scout draft prospects” in his new role and that the position includes the ability to “provide input on personnel decisions.” While analysts like Hollinger and Partnow were known in media circles for their statistical work, Winn’s most recent role at Sports Illustrated was largely as a college basketball writer, and while he certainly utilizes advanced numbers in his work, that isn’t necessarily his public platform in the same way.
With that said, this is a very interesting move from the Raptors, and it isn’t as if Winn is entering on the ground floor. It will be very interesting to see what comes of this hire, but the media’s loss of a quality writer on the college side appears to be the Raptors’ gain.