MORGANTOWN — It is after the glitz and glamour that come with the NBA finals have worn off when times really get hectic for Mike Gansey.
Two months of playoff basketball has its ups and downs, but there’s no comparison when it came to preparing for the 2018 NBA draft.
“The draft is a whole other deal,” said Gansey, a former WVU men’s basketball standout who is now the assistant general manager of his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. “The playoffs and the finals, we’ve been through it for four years now, but you’re basically somewhere in the building just watching.
”You’re nervous about the game, but the draft is months and months of preparation thrown into one night. It’s much more chaotic.”
The Cavaliers exited the NBA finals and entered the draft as maybe the headliner of the night.
Star forward LeBron James can opt out of his contract and become a free agent on June 29, which would be enough to send most general managers into panic mode.
But the Cavaliers also owned the No. 8 pick in the first round, courtesy of the Kyrie Irving trade.
“Most people see it as just having one pick,” Gansey said in a pre-draft interview with The Dominion Post. “You could literally see hundreds of things happen ahead of your pick that may alter what you want to do. You may pick up picks, so now you have to know more guys. You have to know more than who is the eighth pick. You have to know the whole draft, basically, which is what makes it so hard.”
Cleveland took Alabama point guard Collin Sexton with the eighth pick, a move that seemed to be independent of James’ status with the team, because it was one of the Cavaliers’ most glaring needs heading into the draft.
Sexton, a one-and-done freshman, averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 assists last season with the Crimson Tide.
The pick didn’t come without its due diligence.
“You may go out and scout 20-some players for each pick that you have,” Gansey said. “For each of those players, you watch a ton of film on all of them. You talk to their coaches. You bring players in for workouts and interviews. You talk with your scouts.
“It’s a matter of getting as much information as you can. Did they go to a bunch of different high schools? Did they transfer to a different school in college? What were the circumstances behind those? Those are some of the things you have to figure out, because you’re ultimately looking for someone who can fit within your organization.”
Gansey’s run to assistant GM saw him begin as an intern with the Cavaliers. Then he became a scout. He was later named the general manager of the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s team in the G League, and earned that league’s Executive of the Year, in 2017, before moving into the Cavaliers’ front office.
“It took a little while for me to get out of player mode in the beginning,” said Gansey, who played professionally overseas and in the NBA developmental league after two standout years at WVU. “I got to the point where I knew I had made my last dollar as a player, so I told myself that this was going to be my life.”
At WVU, Gansey studied counterterrorism and performing background checks, a life that still interests him.
But it’s the Cavaliers’ war room and hundreds of scouting reports that have his attention these days.
“It’s a grind, for sure, but I love it,” he said. “Every day I wake up lucky to be working for the Cleveland Cavaliers and working with a great bunch of people. I’m around basketball, which is my No. 1 love life is good.”