WESTWEGO, La. — Dell Demps and Tim Connelly had no idea late this spring that they’d be granted the No. 46 pick in tonight’s NBA draft.
But in doing their due diligence, they might have set themselves up for late-round magic.
Demps, the Hornets’ general manager, and Connelly, assistant general manager, have done their research on some of Europe’s finest, spending time at a pre-draft combine in Italy.
While they’ve seen America’s college players over and over thanks to the proliferation of TV games, that combine is the one time they get to see Europe’s players compete against the absolute best.
“It’s always good see guys play the game you’re trying to predict they’re going to play,” Connelly said. “I think it’s beneficial. They draw from so many different countries and leagues that it’s good for those guys maybe who haven’t received the exposure to see them in one gym in front of so many NBA eyes and so many high-level European teams’ eyes.”
Demps’ roots in the NBA includes time with San Antonio, a franchise known for finding gems in European gyms.
Already in New Orleans he has dug deep, finding and signing Gustavo Ayon.
He boils his luck down to knowing the players and what his team needs.
“Doing your due diligence in knowing the market and what players are available and if they’ll be a good fit for your team,” Demps said.
The Italy combine is different from the Chicago one in that players go through five-on-five games in Europe. In Chicago, players go through drills and one-on-one.
That, according to Connelly, isn’t a big deal.
“We’ve seen these (college) guys play enough,” Connelly said. “If we’re still learning about them two weeks before the draft, we probably haven’t done our jobs. The testing is just to have on the record, it’s something consistent.”
In this year’s draft, late-round foreign prospects include Tomas Satoransky of the Czech Republic, Kostas Papanikolaou and Tornike Shengelia of the Republic of Georgia are considered international players who could be available when the Hornets pick at No. 46.