Ep. 34: Advance Scout Jimmy Powell

He knows the X’s and O’s of all 30 NBA teams, is on the road over 200 days a year, and his work each season begins when the schedule is released, as it was on Aug. 11.

Right then, he begins mapping out his plan, where he needs to be and how he’s going to get there. The entire process will take him into September, the final month of the NBA offseason.

Powell has worked as the Pacers Advance Scout since 1998.

Powell has worked as the Pacers Advance Scout since 1998. [Photo: PS&E]

Jimmy Powell resides in Springfield, Massachusetts and he is entering his 19th season as the Pacers Advance Scout. He was originally hired by Donnie Walsh, his former coach, and it’s a job — breaking down every single opponent in the way each Pacers assistant coach prefers — that he is quite fond of.

“People don’t understand, but I do because I’ve been in this league over 20 years. It all starts with the owner,” he tells me on the podcast. “When you got good ownership, you know there’s going to be stability, they’re always going to give you a chance to win, and they’re going to create a good environment.”

The way in which he completes his job has changed and been streamlined with the advancement in technology. All 30 NBA teams employee an advance scout, who studies opponents’ playbook and learns all of their play calls. Attending games days ahead of the Pacers playing them, Powell then inputs their calls into FastDraw, a piece of software used by scouts across the league.

In his time with the Pacers, he’s worked for six different head coaches. Nate McMillan is No. 6.

“If it was another organization, I probably would have been somewhere else. But it’s Indiana, and it’s been great.”

Over the summer, I sat down with Powell for a conversation on his role as advance scout.

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I welcome your questions and comments @ScottAgness on Twitter or via email.

Topics Discussed:

  • His long history with Pacers consultant Donnie Walsh
  • Why working for a great owner is critical
  • How he got — and has remained — in the NBA
  • What it’s like to book his schedule, and to have millions of airline miles
  • Why he has remained in his role for so long and not opted for a “normal” life
  • What makes longtime assistant coach Dan Burke so special

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