Finding the right player agent is a taxing process, however a necessary one for aspiring or current professional basketball players. It’s one of the most important decisions they’ll need to make. For high school and college players with potential to become pro or whom wish to pursue a career in the sport, it’s usually the first time they’re exposed to the business side of the game. That’s why taking the time to do the work to carefully identify the right agent is incredibly important to help prevent being in a situation they’ll regret later.
Player expectations and goals will guide the type of agent that best suits them
Whether a player is a top recruit destined to the NBA, or on the fringe looking to make a career in basketball possibly outside the NBA, the type of agent matters. It’s easy to settle for the big flashy agencies that have the big superstars as clients. But it may not be the best route for players trying to prove themselves. Big-time agencies may not be able to offer the time and attention this caliber player deserves, a challenge these players face. Typically, smaller agencies or individual agents with a limited client list need to work harder to prove themselves by making their clients a top priority, therefore spending more time on finding favorable opportunities for players.
The importance of agent credentials
There’s a big difference between having a respected agent with leverage and power than one that doesn’t. Or an agent that had connections overseas over someone just US focused. These elements can be the deciding factor. Players that may not be destined for the NBA have a plethora of opportunities to play professionally overseas and having an agent that is able to navigate those waters will be best beneficial to them.
What’s their body of work? What have they done for other players? Not just historically, but recently. Are they fully knowledgeable of the NBA pre-draft process, free agency, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement? Can they demonstrate how they’ve navigated each of these elements with other clients? Have they placed players in top international leagues not named NBA? Where they able to secure endorsement deals?
Agents will do their background work on the players, however, for the player it’s equally important they do extensive homework on each agent they meet with or interested in working with.
Player agent trust is everything
Considering this is someone that the player will ideally be working with for a while, finding someone to trust is one of the most critical elements in identifying the right agent. It’s a two-way street. A player will also bring value to an agent, not just the other way around. An agent that can articulate the benefits to both sides can set the foundation to building a trusting relationship with that player. It’s something some agents fail to do, only focusing on the things they claim they can do for the player.
A huge part of the process for players is to decipher the agents pitch. To find a way to gauge whether agents can do what they say they can do. Are they really being honest? Or are they just pitching them what they want to hear in order to get the business. Do they truly believe in their clients? Are they being honest about the players career trajectory or just paying lip service? Can an agent prove they can help the player reach their full potential both athletically and on the business side? All agents will talk a good game about things they can do for the player and in most cases, trust tends to tip the scale.
It’s also normal for agents to befriend not only the player, but their family as well. There’s a borderline creepy element to it. There are boundaries and crossing the line may jeopardize trust that’s been built up to that point.
At the end of the day, players know that agents are trying to win their business and building trust requires a lot of time and work. Players hear similar promises from many agents, thus it’s important for agents to find a way to set themselves apart.
For most players, the process of selecting an agent is an undesirable one. Their priority is to focus on their craft on the basketball court, however hiring the right agent is critical not only during a player’s career years, but just as important to their post career life. It’s a necessary aspect of being a pro that must not be overlooked and carefully vetted considering the high-stakes nature of it. There’s a lot of money on the line.