The pace that somebody plays at is one of the first things I notice. Guys who are comfortable at a fast pace, and seem to be able to slow things down for themselves, stick out. If the game speeds up and they are still comfortable and productive, they have a natural level of talent that could make them special.
Players that are comfortable and productive at different speeds are really effective. It also shows a natural level of ability you need to be a great player. When you see someone who is comfortable playing at any pace, that’s a guy you can win with. They can make adjustments and handle the ebb and flow of different games.
There are certain guys you see play and it looks like they have to be playing at 100 miles per hour to be effective. They go hard all of the time and always play at a fast pace. But do they have to be going full speed to be good? If they do, those guys might struggle as they try and play at a higher level.
When I see a recruit who goes hard all of the time and rarely changes pace, it gives me pause. You can’t always control the pace of a game, and as you get to play at a higher level, almost everyone can adjust to different speeds. When we prepare to play against those guys, we feel like we can take away the pace that he needs to be effective. They tend to be one dimensional, and they have trouble adjusting when things are a bit different.
Pay close attention to pace when you are evaluating players, whether they be recruits or the guys on your own team. The ones who can adjust to different levels of pace have a chance to be a lot more productive as the level increases. If a player needs a certain pace to be effective, he might not be as good as you think.