Pro Days: Agencies host workouts to aid NBA teams, hopefuls
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Davon Reed has crisscrossed the country almost nonstop for the last few weeks, playing anywhere he could with hopes of raising his NBA draft stock.
After all that, he’s seen only about half the NBA’s teams.
But all 30 clubs have seen him, and did so at the same time.
Pro Days – where many top agencies invite in every team to see players they represent work out at once in a controlled setting – are still a relatively new concept in the NBA world, though quickly have become a vital part of the evaluation process. Players are often still invited to various cities for workouts and meetings, but having them in a Pro Day also gives the agents a chance to point out various selling points they feel may have been missed.
“For us, they’ve really been valuable from the standpoint of there’s 30 teams but there’s only so many teams that you can get to,” said agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and Entertainment, which had about 200 onlookers from NBA teams at its Pro Day in Chicago this year. “This gives everybody a chance to see the players at the same time, at the same vision. And we also try to make the workout very taxing. It’s not a dog-and-pony show.
“Teams fly a long way to see us do this,” Bartelstein added. “We want to give them a great picture of our guys.”
Reed is represented by ASM Sports, which had its Pro Day in Las Vegas. Reed said he was trying to not look into the bleachers and study exactly who was there – people who will have a big say in the immediate future for the former University of Miami guard – but couldn’t help but notice how many teams were in attendance.
No one needed to tell him how critical the session was.
“All that you prepare for in this process, just trusting the work and the time you put in, overshadows whatever pressure you might feel,” Reed said. “Also playing college basketball at the highest level, being in front of maybe millions of people every night on TV when you play, you build that tolerance. You get used to knowing that people are watching.”
True, but this obviously wasn’t the typical crowd. It wasn’t uncommon at Pro Days across the league this year to see the likes of Miami’s Pat Riley, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Magic Johnson and New York’s Phil Jackson walk through the doors and evaluate with their staffs. And it’s clear that what goes on at Pro Days – even though the sure-fire top picks don’t need to take part – can have a decided effect on what will happen at Thursday night’s draft.
Teams would almost always say that they prefer to hold their own workout with a player. They want to take their own measurements, run players through specific drills, have some control of what they get to see.
But in an era where the NBA Draft Combine seems to be losing much of its value, with top players either not partaking in much or skipping it altogether and many of the invitees not going to be drafted anyway, the Pro Day concept – which often is a combination of workouts and interviews – seems to help providing teams with more real information.
Many top agencies like Roc Nation, CAA, Wasserman, BDA Sports and more all had Pro Days this year. It wasn’t necessarily just for the draft eligible; Rudy Gay, coming off an Achilles injury, worked out a bit before the Roc Nation crowd.
“My experience, they’re fine,” Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. “You get to interact with the player. You get to watch the player. At that point hopefully you’ve done your homework enough (that the) pro day doesn’t sway you in any way because – it’s just shooting, some very vanilla stuff. But to be able to talk to a player, I think it’s fine.”
ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas doesn’t seem surprised that Pro Days are catching on, if only because NBA teams want all the knowledge they can get out of the evaluation process.
“If they get an opportunity to see somebody, they’re going to go see him,” Bilas said. “You may learn something, get a chance to talk to somebody. You’re going to go and they go to everything. If the agents are putting on a Pro Day, they’re going. From that standpoint, I think it does have some value.”
In a group of three other players, Reed tried to show off his whole game: He went 1-on-1, he got out in transition, he showed his finishing skills, as executives standing or sitting just a few feet away took notes.
And, he hopes, took notice.
“Pro Day gives you an opportunity,” Reed said. “A team might really be there to see someone else in the gym but they can see your talent as well. Or maybe what you do in that Pro Day gets you a workout with a certain team. But the intimate setting of a workout for a team is important as well, seeing how you fit in their style. So it’s all part of the process. And we’ll see what happens.”
AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in Milwaukee contributed.