We raised a question earlier this week as to whether teams are required to conduct pre-draft press conferences. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t do them; anything you say during those pre-draft conferences can and will be used against you by teams drafting behind you that may be plotting for a way to get in front of you.
According to the league, a pre-draft press conference is mandatory. It can be the G.M. or the head coach; it doesn’t have to be both.
Setting aside for now the question of whether requiring the coach or the G.M. to find a way to not answer questions aimed at getting them to disclose their draft plans still makes sense at a time when content and access are everywhere, it becomes even more critical to realize that the smart teams will find a way to either say nothing of value or to plant seeds aimed at duping the opposition.
The draft isn’t a sporting event. But it is a 32-way competition for securing dibs on the services of future players. It’s strategic. It’s calculated. It’s careful. Or at least it should be.
Some teams aren’t as careful about what they say as they need to be. Other teams are paying careful attention to everything that is said, and gleaning from it everything they can that can be used to predict with some semblance of accuracy the way things will go.
From the perspective of fans and media, there’s a chance that the things said during a pre-draft press conference are part of a smokescreen. While it’s never a good idea to blatantly lie to your customer base, the challenge becomes finding a way to say something without really saying anything. That should be the goal for anyone who is speaking to reporters as the draft is looming, because it’s a process that consists of having nothing to gain and everything to lose.