As the NBA D-League wrapped up it's regular season this weekend, a number of teams entered the final two days without a chance of making the playoffs. Rather than mailing in an effortless performance, teams and players across the league finished strong due to the nature of the D-League, where NBA executives and scouts are always keeping track of players. As was the case in Boise, Idaho this past Friday night, as Duke legend, now NBA scout, Trajan Langdon was in attendance watching the action with careful attention.
Langdon achieved incredible success as a member of the Duke Blue Devils, the 6'4'' guard averaged 17.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in his senior season. After finishing his career at Duke, Langdon was drafted 11th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and spent three seasons with the club. Langdon finished his NBA career averaging 5.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 14.6 minutes. However, his greatest success as a professional would be in Europe, where his style of play seemed to of translated better.
While in Europe, Langdon went on to win two Euroleague titles, an All-Euroleague First Team selection in 2007 and 2008, Euroleague Final Four MVP in 2008, and Russian, Italian and Turkish league championships. Even to this day, Langdon remains one of the most successful American players ever to have played in Europe.
Langdon retired in 2011, and has now focused on staying involved with the game as a scout. Langdon spoke with RidiculousUpside.com about his current job duties and his future, "This is my first season as a scout, and for me it's a way to stay connected with the game. I want to go the front office path rather than coaching or something else, I feel it can be a great path for me. This year has been a great way for me to check out the differences between a player's approach in the NBA, and the D-League, as I've spent time scouting both leagues. It's interesting to see how players react to each scenario." Langdon said.
Langdon has spent the majority of his time scouting on the East coast this season, but took his first trip out West this past weekend to check out some D-League talent. Langdon explained the importance of searching for players in the NBADL. "It's an area we (Spurs) have to cover, you basically have the NBA, Europe and college, but now the D-League fits right in there. There are always opportunities to find certain players who can be valuable assets to NBA organizations, playing in the D-League."
Langdon went on the discuss what he specifically looks for regarding players in the D-League. "Obviously you look at their skill-level first, then things like ball handling, shooting, and how much knowledge of the game that they have. The most important thing, is to see if they have the willingness to do the little things out on the court. You're not searching for a superstar, NBA teams already have those. So, you need to find guys who can fit in as teammates, and as complimentary players. I'm looking at everything, like how they interact with other players? How they mesh with their coaches? Also, how do they conduct themselves throughout the course of the game? There's a lot of little things that you can pick up on without necessarily asking the coaches." Langdon explained.
Often times players who fail to make it past NBA training camp, are left with the decision to either test out the NBADL, or pursue a career in Europe? As a guy who once dominated in Europe, Langdon offered his take on the differences between the playing styles, and overall talent between Europe and the D-League. "Teams in Europe are better, they play a better brand of basketball, but it's a completely different mindset. The aspect of promise and potential is obviously not going to happen in Europe as it does in the D-League. You can be cut from a team in Europe even if you're playing well, but your team is losing. Whereas in the NBA D-League that's not the case at all." Langdon added.
Having the set of eyes, and overall basketball knowledge that Trajan Langdon brings with him to the scouting profession, is an extremely valuable asset for the Spurs organization. Langdon's respect and acknowledgement of what the NBA D-League can offer, will prove to be beneficial as he continues to carve out a career after his playing days.