With the NBA Draft coming up, a former agent explains the biggest misconception about his job

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesThe NBA Draft is the culmination of months of work for NBA players and agents.
  • A former NBA agent wrote that an agent’s job is to “manage their players’ market, not create it” before the NBA draft and that agents can only help players make the most of interest they are already generating.
  • Agents will sometimes try to recruit clients by selling their ability to influence NBA teams.
  • Similarly, agents do not have the pull to guarantee clients a spot in the NBA combine.

With the NBA Draft a little less than two months away, former NBA agent Matt Babcock has begun a series of columns for Sports Illustrated pulling back the curtains of the pre-draft process. And in his first entry, he gave an interesting insight into what he feels is the biggest misconception about NBA agents.

“I truly believe an agent needs to manage their player’s market, not create it. That is probably the biggest misconception of an agent’s role, in my opinion,” Babcock wrote. “During the recruiting period, agents often lean on selling players and parents on how powerful they are and how much influence they have with teams. There are certain steps that can be taken by an agent to promote a player and improve his market, but there’s really only so much that can be done.”

While some agents do have a basketball background – Babcock cites former NBA player B.J. Armstrong and former agent turned Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka as examples – he notes NBA front offices will not be inclined to listen to what an agent has to say on basketball matters.

“As an agent you inherit a player’s market value when you sign them, for better or for worse. Sure, there is some posturing that is necessary, but I believe that the agent’s role is primarily to give guidance to maximise opportunities rather than serve their outcome on a silver platter,” Babcock wrote.

Another possible misconception lingering around NBA agents is that they can ensure their clients get a spot at the NBA combine.

“The NBA has done a great job of setting in place a system that empowers the teams to decide on which players are invited. Teams vote as a staff and turn their selections into the league office . . . The combine has a strict protocol. My uncle Pete Babcock-the former general Manager of the Atlanta Hawks-was the longtime director of the combine. Even he didn’t have the singular power to get a player invited.”

Babcock’s column has plenty more interesting insights, such as his approach to coaching players for interviews. You can read the whole piece here.

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