Pistons GM Troy Weaver made an appearance on the Pushin’ Thru podcast, hosted by Tate Frazier, formerly of The Ringer, and Detroit’s own B.J. Armstrong, the former NBA player turned NBA player agent (Armstrong is Derrick Rose’s current agent, which means Weaver’s appearance on this podcast is not a coincidence).
Troy Weaver said some things you’ve heard before, and some thing you maybe haven’t. Give the podcast as a whole a listen, but here were some moments that raised my eyebrows:
Troy Weaver says Kareem is the GOAT
That might be technically correct, and he was talking about Kareem’s GOAT-ness in the context of The Last Dance, but, uh ... I don’t know if that’s the way to endear yourself to Detroiters, Troy.
Troy Weaver Really Liked ... Brook Lopez?
We knew Troy Weaver pushed to take Russell Westbrook at the top of the 2008 NBA draft - a decision that cemented his scouting acumen forever in the eyes of many - but the other guys from that draft he liked were Derrick Rose (who he finally gets to work with), and Brook Lopez, who went No. 10. Weaver “thought (Lopez) could be a 20-point-per-game scorer” - and he was right.
Lopez averaged about 20 points a game until the ground shifted underneath him and big men killing people from the block wasn’t the direction the NBA was interested in. And, you know, in response to that, Lopez turned himself into the anchor of one of the best defenses in the NBA and a threat to make shots from 28 feet, so... better than Joe Alexander.
Troy Weaver would like some OTAs:
I thought all 30 teams should’ve went into the bubble. To have no games from March until December I thought was kind of irresponsible, but now we’re in that situation... I think for the eight teams that aren’t in the bubble, we’re behind, and we need to make sure we can get caught up to speed... get our guys in some form of competitive environment.
Spoken like a general manager who really could use the ability to evaluate his current players in the near future. Weaver echoed what we’ve heard Detroit Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey say on this matter, where the team is happy to participate in a second “Delete 8” bubble, but preferred to just have training camps in-market sometime during the off-season.
It was also interesting that he referred to not having all 30 teams in the bubble as “irresponsible.” To me, personally, having FEWER teams in the bubble would have been the more responsible thing to do. So far, the bubble has proven safe, but that safety is tenuous, and more people only adds more variables to the equation. The desire to evaluate your team is strong, but the need for safety should be stronger.
Troy Weaver is ready for the draft:
Most over-scouted draft in history. Every scout, every front office guy, every coach is going to watch film after film, because you have so much time in front of you. The missing component will be the human interaction.
The best scouts do their work early. I was fortunate enough to go overseas early, lay my eyes on all those kids, get to see quite a few games myself even before we get to the scouts, so I have a real comfort level with the guys on this draft. Absent the piece, you know, getting to sit down with them eye-to-eye, but I’ve seen them live.
This lines up with Weaver’s earlier talk of drafting people, not players. The film has been dissected ad nauseam by everyone in the organization available to watch film, but there is only so much you can infer about a person from a Zoom interview with a maximum time limit. You can hear how important getting to know people in and around basketball is for Weaver is in some of the stories he tells as the podcast goes along, and you can hear the slightest edge of frustration here that he can’t “sit down with them eye-to-eye.”
We didn’t know that Weaver had been overseas to see some of the top prospects available, and it’s good that he saw those guys in person. However, we also don’t know exactly where he went. Did he “only” go to Europe to get an eye on Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Leandro Bolmaro? Did he make it all the way down to Australia to see LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton? Did he shuffle down to Neo Faliro to get a look at Aleksej Pokuševski? We don’t know, and Troy probably won’t say publicly until after the draft.
Just assume Troy saw the guys you wanted him to see, and he saw exactly what you see in them. That’s what I’m doing, at least.
Troy Weaver sounds like a human being:
I mean this in the nicest way possible, but when Weaver is offering prepared lines - he used the young quarterback / ground game analogy and the “restore not rebuild” lines again - he sounded very robotic, very canned. You could hear him thinking through what he wanted to say, what he’s practiced saying, which is what he wanted us to hear. And there’s value in hearing Weaver’s plan and vision.
However, it didn’t give us a great sense of his personality. On this podcast, though, he opened up, and we got to see a little bit of the person - not the executive - who’s running the Pistons. And when Weaver was talking about old scouting trips to see Russ and Derrick Rose, though, he sounds like an entirely different man (He actually sounds like my uncle, funnily enough).
When Weaver was hired, I went scouring the internet for his “Big Profile” - the GQ spread, the journalist who got five days of access into the life of one of the NBA’s best talent evaluators. You figure a man who’s been on everyone’s “GM-of-the-Future” shortlists would have one of those, right? If he does, I couldn’t find it (if you have it, PLEASE share it with me in the comments I am begging you). James Edwards, at The Athletic, did a pseudo-profile (and a damn fine job of it), but you’ll notice it’s a third-person examination - Weaver is not quoted in the piece.
I hope we get to learn a little bit more about Troy Weaver during his time in Detroit. The person he gave us a glimpse of in this podcast - the one with endless stories from scouting trips and a decade-plus on-the-ground experience in and around the NBA - I would really like to meet. I hope Troy Weaver lets the media see that side of him, so the fans get to see that side of him.