The best path to a basketball job (without playing or coaching experience)

Contextual Scouting

This guest post was written by Josh Url. Josh mentors and teaches people how to solve problems in basketball using tools like Synergy Sports Technology through his website called Contextual Scouting.

Who among us that love basketball wouldn’t want to work for a team?

For many of us working in basketball would be a dream come true.

But how do we improve our odds of getting our dream job in basketball?

The truth is it’s difficult to get your “foot in the door” with a basketball organization.

With only 30 NBA teams, 12 WNBA teams, and 27 G League teams, the competition for positions with these professional leagues is as intense as a high stakes game of cards on the team plane between MJ, Kobe, KG, and Russell Westbrook.

How do you compete against former pro players, coaches with decades of experience and connections, recent Ivy League graduates with advanced degrees in econometrics or machine learning, or relatives of team owners?

Pursue a job many of them don’t want to do – work in the video room.

My mentor and 2009 NBA Executive of the Year winner, Mark Warkentien, likes to refer to the video room as “the great equalizer for us mere mortals.”

I completely agree and over the rest of this article I’ll explain WHY.

The video room is your way to a basketball job.

To be honest, the video room requires a LOT of hard work and long hours and you won’t get to speak at press conferences or get the perks of being highly visible to the media and fans. These negatives though are WHY the video room is a great place of us “mere mortals” to get our “feet in the door” with a team.

The primary currency with the video room is a tenacious work ethic and a willingness to do the “dirty work” the team needs — not prior pro playing or coaching experience, not a graduate degree, and not blood ties to the owner.

If you are willing to proverbially forego the touches and shots and instead set punishing screens and box out, then the video room can get you a “foot in the door” AND an opportunity to prove yourself as a valuable member of the team!

The video room may not be one of the team’s “stars” BUT it does give you a great opportunity to show why you would be worthy of further opportunities with the team.

The video room works with the coaching staff, the analytics staff, the player development staff, and the front office.

  • Which means you get to help solve a variety of problems with both short term and long term impact on the team’s fortunes.
  • In addition it helps you build relationships and your network which can lead to future opportunities.

The video room provides you with countless reps on breaking down the game.

  1. Improving your basketball IQ regardless of how good it was before the video room.
  2. It prepares you to be able to succeed in future opportunities.

The video room has proven a stepping stone of many coaches and front office executives over the years.

Note – This list includes just the people on whom I could find background info via staff directories, media guides, and LinkedIn.com so it’s very likely doesn’t cover everyone who has some video room experience which means there are likely more people who have video room experience in their career journey to prominent roles in basketball.

The 2017-18 Video Room Front Office All-Stars

NBA Front Office Executives with video room experience
  1. Sam Presti – Executive Vice President and GM for the Oklahoma City Thunder (at least 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  2. Dennis Lindsey – GM for the Utah Jazz (at least 1 season in a video role for the Houston Rockets)
  3. Travis Schlenk – Head of Basketball Operations and GM for the Atlanta Hawks (4 seasons in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  4. Tim Connelly – President of Basketball Operations for the Denver Nuggets (1 season in a video role for the Washington Wizards)
  5. Jeff Weltman – President of Basketball Operations for the Orlando Magic (1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers)
  6. Brian Hagen – Associate GM for the Chicago Bulls (at least 1 season in a video role for the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans)
  7. Adam Simon VP of Player Personnel for the Miami Heat and GM for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (at least 1 season in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  8. Matt Lloyd – Assistant General Manager of the Orlando Magic (at least 1 season in a video role for the Chicago Bulls)
  9. James Paulis – Director of Player Personnel for the Houston Rockets (3 seasons in a video role for the Houston Rockets)
  10. Bubba Burrage – Director of Player Personnel for the Phoenix Suns (at least 1 season in a video role for the Sacramento Kings)
  11. Jason White – Director of Scouting for the Dallas Mavericks (5 seasons in a video role for the Dallas Mavericks)
  12. Mike Smith – Director of Data Analytics and Pro Scout for the New York Knicks (9 season in a video role for the New York Knicks and 1 season in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  13. Will Dawkins – Vice President of Identification and Intelligence for the Oklahoma City Thunder (at least 1 season in a video role for the Oklahoma City Thunder)
  14. Vance Catlin – Director of Pro Scouting for the Indiana Pacers (9 seasons in a video role for the Indiana Pacers, 3 seasons in a video role for the Indiana Fever and 1 season in a video role with Michigan State Women’s basketball program)
  15. BJ Domingo – Scout for the Milwaukee Bucks (1 season in a video role for the Golden State Warriors)
  16. Phil Jabour – Scout for the Philadelphia 76ers (5 seasons in a video role for the Houston Rockets)
  17. Danny Mills – Scout for the Philadelphia 76ers (1 season in a video role for the Bakersfield Jam) (former student)
  18. Jason Hervey – Advance Scout for the Phoenix Suns (4 seasons in a video role for the Detroit Pistons)
  19. Daisuke Yoshimoto – Special Assistant to the President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves (1 season in a video role for the Denver Nuggets and 4 seasons in a video role for the Chicago Bulls)
  20. Thomas Massimino – Basketball Operations Specialist for the Orlando Magic (2 seasons in a video role for the Denver Nuggets and 1 season in a video role with the University of Iowa Men’s basketball program)
  21. Mike McNeive – Director of Basketball Operations for the Atlanta Hawks (4 seasons in a video role for the Seattle Supersonics and 1 season in a video role for the Orlando Magic
  22. Derek Pierce – Pro Player Personnel Scout for the Atlanta Hawks and GM of the Erie BayHawks (5 seasons in a video role for the Indiana Pacers)
  23. Drew Perry – Director of Pro Scouting for the Charlotte Hornets (at least 7 seasons in a video role for the Charlotte Hornets)
  24. Terry Sullivan – Director of Internal Analytics for the Dallas Mavericks (5 seasons in a video role for the Dallas Mavericks, 1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers and 1 season in a video role with Providence College Men’s basketball program)
  25. Nick U’Ren – Director of Basketball Operations for the Golden State Warriors (5 seasons in a video role for the Phoenix Suns)
  26. Jacob Rubin – Basketball Operations Assistant (1 season in a video role for the Golden State Warriors)
  27. Drew Perry – Director of Pro Scouting for the Charlotte Hornets (at least 7 seasons in a video role for the Charlotte Hornets)
  28. Terry Sullivan – Director of Internal Analytics for the Dallas Mavericks (5 seasons in a video role for the Dallas Mavericks, 1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers and 1 season in a video role with Providence College Men’s basketball program)
  29. Nick U’Ren – Director of Basketball Operations for the Golden State Warriors (5 seasons in a video role for the Phoenix Suns)
  30. Jacob Rubin – Basketball Operations Assistant (1 season in a video role for the Golden State Warriors)
  31. Ryan Carr – Director of Player Personnel for the Indiana Pacers (at least 1 season in a video role for the Indiana Pacers)
  32. Hansen Wong – Manager of G-League & International Scouting for the Indiana Pacers (9 seasons in a video role for the Indiana Pacers)
  33. H. Ryan Slater – Scouting Coordinator for the Memphis Grizzlies (4 seasons in a video role with Georgia Tech Men’s basketball program)
  34. Nicki Gross – Basketball Analyst for the Memphis Grizzlies (1 season in a video role for the Iowa Energy and 1 season in a video role for the Bakersfield Jam) (former student)
  35. Luke Steele – Advance Scout for the Milwaukee Bucks (12 seasons in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks)
  36. Bryson Graham – Director of College Scouting for the New Orleans Pelicans (2 seasons in a video role for the New Orleans Pelicans)
  37. Jason Brown – Manager of Advanced Scouting (4 seasons in a video role for the New Orleans Pelicans and 1 season in a video role for the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats)
  38. Will Chapman – Advance Scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder (1 season in a video role for the Houston Rockets and 2 seasons in a video role with Texas A&M Corpus Christi Men’s basketball program)
  39. Sebastian Pruiti – Pro Evaluation Scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder (4 seasons in a video role for the Oklahoma City Thunder)
  40. Adam Glessner – Director of Basketball Intelligence for the San Antonio Spurs (6 seasons in a video role for the Orlando Magic)
  41. Jonathan Whitkin – Advance Scout for the Orlando Magic (7 seasons in a video role for the Connecticut Sun) (my friend)
  42. Zachary Sogolow – Senior Manager of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers (4 seasons in a video role with Harvard Men’s basketball program)
  43. Matt Whinrey – Advance Scout for the Portland Trailblazers (4 seasons in a video role for the New Orleans Pelicans)
  44. Dan Hartfield – Advance Scout and Assistant Coach for the Sacramento Kings (2 seasons in a video role for the Memphis Grizzlies and 2 seasons in a video role with Ole Miss Men’s basketball program)
  45. Richard Smith – Executive Director of International Scouting for the Utah Jazz (5 seasons in a video role for the Utah Jazz and 5 seasons in a video role for the Utah Starzz)
  46. Brett Greenberg – VP of Basketball Analytics/Salary Cap Management for the Washington Wizards (2 seasons in a video role for the Washington Wizards, 1 season in a video role for the Miami Heat and 4 seasons in a video role with Duke University Men’s basketball program)
  47. Alec Arnault – Coordinator of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards (1 season in a video role with the University of Tennessee Men’s basketball program and 3 seasons in a video role with Cornell University Men’s basketball program)
  48. William Grove – Regional Scout for the Atlanta Hawks (7 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
WNBA Front Office Executives with video room experience
  1. Dan Padover – VP of Basketball Operations for the New York Liberty (1 season in a video role for the New York Liberty, 2 seasons in a video role with Rutgers Women’s Basketball and 1 season in a video role for the Philadelphia 76ers)
  2. Zach Cooper – Director of Scouting and Video for the Atlanta Dream (1 season in a video role with University of Tulsa Women’s basketball program, 3 seasons in a video role with the University of Houston Women’s basketball program, and 2 seasons in a video role with the University of Arkansas Women’s basketball program)
  3. Nicholas Reick – Manager of Analytics for the Dallas Wings and Director of Basketball Operations & Video Coordinator for the Salt Lake City Stars (3 seasons in a video role for the Dallas Wings, 1 season in a video role for the Salt Lake City Stars and 1 season in a video role with UCLA Women’s basketball program)
  4. Daniel Villareal – Analytics & Video Coordinator for the Washington Mystics (3 seasons in a video role for the Washington Mystics) (former student)
G League Front Office Executives with video room experience
  1. Brian Levy – General Manager for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (1 season as video coordinator for the Bakersfield Jam)
  2. Dylan DeBusk – Assistant General Manager for the Northern Arizona Suns (1 season in a video role for the Bakersfield Jam)
  3. Scott Schroeder – Assistant General Manager of the Capital City Go-GO (2 seasons as video coordinator for the Reno Bighorns)
  4. Matt Lilly – Director of Basketball Operations & Scouting for the Delaware Blue Coats (1 season in a video role with St. Paul’s School (MD), 1 season as a basketball analyst for Krossover, and 1 season in a video role for the Erie BayHawks)
  5. Brendon Yu – Director of G League Operations for the Canton Charge (4 seasons in a video role with Indiana University Men’s basketball program)
  6. Sean Dwyer – Director of Basketball Operations for the Iowa Wolves (2 seasons in a video role with the University of North Carolina Greensboro Men’s basketball program)
  7. Denny Glunt – Director of Basketball Operations for the Grand Rapids Drive (1 season in a video role for the Grand Rapids Drive and 4 seasons in a video role with Penn State University Men’s basketball program)
  8. Nicholas Lagios – Director of Basketball Operations & Player Development for the South Bay Lakers (1 season in a video role for the South Bay Lakers, 1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Lakers, and 1 season in a video role with Stanford University Men’s basketball program)
  9. Ryan Atkinson – Assistant General Manager of the Santa Cruz Warriors (1 season in a video role for the Reno Bighorns)
  10. Billy Campbell – Director of Basketball Operations for the Texas Legends (1 season as a Phase 2 Logger for Synergy Sports Technology)
  11. Mike Sergo – Video & Basketball Operations Coordinator for the Wisconsin Herd (at least 10 seasons in a video role for the Milwaukee Bucks)
NBA Coaches with video room experience
  1. Erik Spoelstra – Head Coach for the Miami Heat (won 2 championships as head coach and another as assistant coach) (4 seasons in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  2. Mike Budenholzer – Head Coach for the Atlanta Hawks (2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year) (2 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  3. Mike Brown – Assistant Coach for the Golden State Warriors (2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year with the Cleveland Cavaliers) (5 seasons in a video role for the Denver Nuggets)
  4. David Fizdale – Head Coach for the New York Knicks (1 season in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  5. James Borrego – Head Coach for the Charlotte Hornets (at least 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  6. Marlon Garnett – Assistant Coach for the Atlanta Hawks (1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  7. Bret Brielmaier – Assistant Coach for the Brooklyn Nets (3 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  8. Jordan Ott – Assistant Coach for the Brooklyn Nets (3 seasons in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks and 5 seasons in a video role with Michigan State Men’s basketball program)
  9. Nate Babcock – Special Assistant to the Head Coach for the Atlanta Hawks (2 seasons in a video role for the Brooklyn Nets)
  10. Dutch Gaitley – Assistant Coach for the Charlotte Hornets (5 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs and 1 season in a video role with Lehigh University Men’s basketball program)
  11. Chad Iske – Assistant Coach for the Charlotte Hornets (at least 1 season in a video role for the Denver Nuggets)
  12. Dan Geriot – Assistant Coach/Player Development Coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers (3 seasons in a video role for the Cleveland Cavaliers)
  13. DJ Bakker – Player Development Coach for the Detroit Pistons (2 seasons in a video role for the Toronto Raptors)
  14. Khalid Robinson – Special Assistant to the Head Coach (2 seasons in a video role for the Golden State Warriors and 1 season in a video role with Fordham University Men’s basketball program)
  15. Ben Sullivan – Assistant Coach for the Milwaukee Bucks (at least 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  16. Patrick St. Andrews – Assistant Coach for the Milwaukee Bucks (3 seasons in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks)
  17. Pat Sullivan – Assistant Coach for the New York Knicks (at least 1 season in a video role for the Detroit Pistons)
  18. Daniel Brady – Player Development Coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder (3 seasons in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks, 1 season in a video role for the Houston Rockets and 3 seasons in a video role for the Portland Trailblazers)
  19. Remy Ndiaye – Player Development Specialist for the Philadelphia 76ers (1 season in a video role for the Philadelphia 76ers)
  20. Joe Prunty – Assistant Coach for the Phoenix Suns (6 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  21. Jason Staudt – Assistant Coach for the Phoenix Suns (7 seasons in a video role for the Milwaukee Bucks and at least 1 season in a video role for the Orlando Magic)
  22. Zach Guthrie – Assistant Coach/Basketball Strategy for the Utah Jazz (at least 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  23. Lamar Skeeter – Assistant Coach/Player Development for the Utah Jazz (2 seasons in a video role for the Utah Jazz and at least 1 season in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks)
  24. Jamie Young – Assistant Coach for the Boston Celtics (7 seasons in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  25. Pat Delany – Assistant Coach for the Charlotte Hornets (5 seasons in a video role for the Miami Heat) Frank Vogel – Head Coach for the Orlando Magic (4 seasons in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  26. Steve Hetzel – Assistant Coach for the Charlotte Hornets (3 seasons in a video role for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  27. Ryan Richman – Assistant Coach for the Washington Wizards (4 seasons in a video role for the Washington Wizards)
  28. Mike Wilhelm – Assistant Coach for the Chicago Bulls (6 seasons in a video role for the Cleveland Cavaliers)
  29. Nate Loenser – Assistant Coach for the Chicago Bulls (1 season in a video role for the Chicago Bulls)
  30. Melvin Hunt – Assistant Coach for the Dallas Mavericks (2 seasons in a video role for the Houston Rockets)
  31. Kalab Canales – Assistant Coach for the New York Knicks (was interim head coach for the Portland TrailBlazers in 2011-12) (4 seasons in a video role for the Portland TrailBlazers)
  32. Charles Klask – Assistant Coach for the Detroit Pistons (multiple seasons in a video role for the Orlando Magic)
  33. Jesse Mermuys – Assistant Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers (at least 1 season in a video role for the Denver Nuggets)
  34. Brian Keefe – Assistant Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers (2 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  35. Dan Craig – Assistant Coach for the Miami Heat (8 seasons in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  36. Sean Sweeney – Assistant Coach for the Detroit Pistons (6 seasons in a video role for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets and 1 season as video coordinator for the University of Northern Iowa Men’s Basketball team)
  37. Vin Bhavnani – Assistant Coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder (2 seasons in a video role for the Oklahoma City Thunder, 2 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs, and at least 1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers)
  38. Matt Hill – Assistant Coach for the Atlanta Hawks (3 season in a video role for the Orlando Magic)
  39. Jason March – Assistant Coach for the Sacramento Kings (6 seasons in a video role for the Memphis Grizzlies and 2 seasons in a video role for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury)
  40. Will Hardy – Assistant Coach for the San Antonio Spurs (2 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  41. Mike Wells – Assistant Coach for the Utah Jazz (at least 1 season in a video role for the Rockets/Lakers/Spurs/Wizards)
  42. Jim Moran – Assistant Coach for the Portland TrailBlazers (1 season in a video role for the Portland TrailBlazers)
  43. Kenny Graves – Coaching Associate/Director of Player Development for the Boston Celtics (1 season in a video role for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 6 seasons in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  44. Chris Demarco – Assistant Coach/Player Development for the Golden State Warriors (3 seasons in a video role for the Golden State Warriors)
  45. Joe Boylan – Assistant Coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (1 season in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  46. Irving Roland – Player Development Coach for the Houston Rockets (several seasons in a video rooms of both the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans) (my friend)
  47. Eric Glass – Player Development Coach and Video Coordinator for the Miami Heat (8 and counting seasons in a video role for the Miami Heat)
  48. Kevin Hanson – Player Development Coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (2 seasons in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  49. Michael Ruffin – Player Development Coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (1 season in a video role for the New Orleans Pelicans)
  50. Chris Babcock – Director of Player Development for the Philadelphia 76ers (2 seasons in a video role for the Philadelphia 76ers and 1 season in a video role for the San Antonio Spurs)
  51. Mitchell Vanya – Special Assistant: Advanced Operations and Coaching for the Houston Rockets (5 seasons in a video role for the Houston Rockets)
  52. Natalie Nakase – Player Development Coach for the Los Angeles Clippers (5 seasons in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers)
  53. John Bennett – Coordinator of Player Development for the Toronto Raptors (3 seasons in a video role for the Toronto Raptors)
G League Coaches with video room experience
  1. Noel Gillespie – Head Coach for the Erie BayHawks (4 seasons in a video role for the Phoenix Suns)
  2. Brian Adams – Head Coach for the Aqua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (4 seasons in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers)
  3. Tyler Neal – Assistant Coach for the Canton Charge (1 season in a video role with the University of Akron Men’s basketball program)
  4. Chase Buford – Assistant Coach for the Delaware Blue Coats (2 seasons in a video role for the Atlanta Hawks)
  5. Jhared Simpson – Assistant Coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (7 seasons in a video role for the Indiana Pacers)
  6. Connor Johnson – Head Coach of the Delaware Blue Coats (2 seasons in a video role for the Philadelphia 76ers)
  7. Jason Crafton – Assistant Coach for the Delaware Blue Coats (2 seasons in a video role with Villanova University Men’s basketball program)
  8. Kelly Peters – Assistant Coach for the Delaware Blue Coats (2 seasons in a video role for the Golden State Warriors)
  9. Ryan Marchand – Assistant Coach for the Iowa Wolves (1 season as a video associate for the Minnesota Timberwolves, 1 season in a video role for the Austin Toros, 2 seasons as an analyst for Krossover)
  10. Julian Terrell – Assistant Coach for the Windy City Bulls (2 seasons as director of video operations for Vanderbilt University)
  11. Austin Peterson – Seasonal Coaching Assistant for the Canton Charge (1 season doing video work for Baldwin Wallace University)
  12. Sam Newman-Beck – Assistant Coach for the Erie BayHawks (8 seasons in a video role for the Minnesota Timberwolves and 1 season in a video role for the Boston Celtics)
  13. Scott Simpson – Assistant Coach for the Long Island Nets (5 seasons in a video role for the Oklahoma City Thunder)
  14. Will Weaver – Head Coach for the Long Island Nets (1 season in a video role for the Philadelphia 76ers)
  15. Bret Burchard – Head Coach for the Northern Arizona Suns (3 seasons in a video role for the Phoenix Suns and 1 season as a phase 2 logger for Synergy Sports Technology)
  16. Brandon Rosenthal – Assistant Coach for the Northern Arizona Suns (3 seasons in a video role for the Houston Rockets and 1 season in a video role with Santa Clara University Men’s basketball program) (my friend)
  17. Brian Lankton – Assistant Coach for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (1 season in a video role for the Sacramento Kings) (former student)
  18. Kyle Nishimoto – Assistant Coach/Head Video Coordinator for the Stockton Kings (2 seasons in a video role for the Reno Bighorns) (former student)
  19. Jamaal Benjamin – Assistant Coach for the Wisconsin Herd (1 season in a video role for the Orlando Magic and 1 season in a video role for the Los Angeles Clippers)

Whew that was a LOT of successful people with professional basketball teams who have spent some time in a video room!

I counted 128 people who have gone through a video role on their path to their current jobs!

And this list is just the people I can find official press releases and LinkedIn profiles that corroborate video role experience. So the actual list is most likely even larger!

What it means for you

I included this large list to show you how the video room can help you get your “foot in the door” and give you an opportunity to work your way to your dream job whatever that may be.

You do NOT need pro playing experience, coaching experience, a fancy degree, or invitation to family reunions with owners to get a job in a video role for a team.

You just need to be willing to work hard and help solve problems.

One of the best ways to learn these skills is to sign up for Josh’s basketball video training course. He teaches you how to use basketball video and other skills to carve out your niche in the basketball industry and pave your way to getting a job. Check out all the testimonials on his website from people in basketball whom he helped.

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