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Grading The NBA Draft (By Agencies)

It has been a week since ESPN delightfully covered the 2008 NBA Draft.  Adam Silver has never had as many people cheer for him in his life (if you did not see the second round, then you have no idea what I am talking about).  We have had enough time to digest the plethora of trades, the Darrell Arthur disaster, and the opening of free agency.  It is now time to look back and see how the top agencies fared in the draft process.  If an agency only had one client taken in the draft, I figured it would be better to leave their name off of here (that does not mean in any way that they did not have a successful draft).  Onward!

  1. Wasserman Media Group (Arn Tellem, BJ Armstrong, Dan Tobin, Greg Lawrence, Thad Foucher, Bob Myers) – The WMG team had an unprecidented draft.  BJ Armstrong stole the show by representing the #1 overall pick, Derrick Rose.  Because BJ was always mentioned with Rose, many looked over the fact that he is also the primary agent for #14 pick, Anthony Randolph.  Quite a first year for the one-time Chicago Bull.  Arn Tellem did not do too poorly himself.  Danillo Gallinari went higher than many had anticipated during the week.  While Tellem may not be “listed” as the primary agent for many of WMG’s 7 first round picks, you have to believe he had a heavy hand in persuading the players to go Wasserman’s way.  Add to the stable Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Maarty Leunen, D.J. Augustin…yeah, this one is easy…Grade = A+
  2. Priority Sports (Mark Bartelstein, Aaron Mintz, Brad Ames) – Forget A-Rod vs. Canseco, T.O. vs. the media, and Shawn Chacon vs. the Astros GM.  I want to see Tellem vs. Bartelstein.  If you had to ask me which two names currently dominate the NBPA agent landscape, it would have to be these two fellows.  If your last name starts with a “B”, chances are, Bartelstein represents you.  His company got J.R. Giddons drafted in the first round, way above where I thought he would go.  At the same time, Trent Plaisted slipped a little further than Bartelstein probably hoped he would.  The company definitely jumped for joy when Brandon Rush became a lottery pick.  Overall, Priority had another solid showing.  Grade = A
  3. BDA Sports (Billy Duffy, Calvin Andrews, Rade Filipovich) – The biggest news leading up to the NBA Draft had maintained the spotlight for quite some time: O.J. Mayo fired Calvin Andrews and BDA Sports after NCAA violations came to light regarding Mayo’s acceptance of money through a runner for the agency.  In my mind, BDA had to do quite a lot to rebound from that devastating news, which may continue to get worse if further sanctions are placed on the agency.  I do not feel like they ended up very happy.  Besides losing Mayo, James Gist was picked later than expected, but Goran Dragic was taken right about where he was predicted to go.  Overall, 2008 was a disappointing year for a company that used to be right up alongside Priorty.  Grade = C-
  4. Excel Sports Management (Jeff Schwartz, Sam Goldfeder) – For a long time, mock drafts had Jerryd Bayless projected as a top-4 pick.  It is not Schwartz’s fault that Bayless slipped as draft day approached; Bayless was probably being hyped a little bit too much beforehand.  Having a lottery pick is always a win for a sports agency, and Excel must be happy that Bayless went in the top 14.  Having two lottery picks is even nicer…Kevin Love is also a client.  The true icing on the cake is that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was taken at the beginning of the second round.  Mbah a Moute was not even a lock to be picked at all.  Grade = A
  5. Montgomery Sports Group (Roger Montgomery) – Not a bad draft for a man who only represented four guys going into last Thursday.  Sonny Weems was taken higher than expected and Darrell Jackson went right about where he was predicted to land…and to a team that desperately needs some help.  I have no criticism for Roger, but until he breaks into the first round, I am unable to give him an A.  Grade = B+
  6. Creative Artists Agency (Leon Rose, Andre Buck) – It was looking like CAA was going to be left out of the first round shuffle until the aforementioned O.J. Mayo affair went down.  But even more surprising is that CAA ended up with two lottery picks.  The second is Jason Thompson, who has Andre Buck as his primary advisor.  Who could have predicted that the Rider forward would be selected twelfth overall?  The only thing holding me back from giving CAA an A+ is the slipping of CDR (Chris Douglas-Roberts).  Tenth pick in the second round?  Something went wrong there.  Grade = A-
  7. ASM Sports (Andy Miller, Justin Zanik) – Serge Ibaka, Sasha Kaun, Omer Asik, J.J. Hickson, Marreese Speights, Deron Washington, and Richard Hendrix all got drafted.  It seems like ASM has not gotten its due praise because WMG has been taking all of the headlines.  Someone hire a PR expert for this company, ASAP!  Between WMG and ASM, how does anyone else compete?  Sure, James Mays and David Padgett were not selected, but I am sure that they will find a team to play for.  Grade = A+

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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