Hutton: Predict the NBA draft? Now that’s just daft
In Mark Bartelstein, we trust.
That’s the philosophy the Drew family adopted in 1998, when Bryce Drew, after vetting a variety of agents, decided to sign with Bartelstein, a Chicago-based agent with an impeccable reputation for delivering for his clients.
Bartelstein thoroughly checks his own potential players for character flaws and potentially damning skeletons in the closet before signing them. Bartelstein has cornered the market for Northwest Indiana basketball players. E’Twuan Moore, Robbie Hummel, Drew and now Mitch McGary have employed him.
Bartelstein has positioned his agency, Priority Sports, as a family shop that dotes equally on all its players, whether they’re huge stars or guys just hanging on.
So when McGary suddenly decided not to take a physical before the draft — it was assumed he would do one physical and release the information about his ailing back to all the teams — Drew’s response was Mark knows best.
“If that’s what he said to do, I’d trust him,” he said.
Some Internet lurkers have suggested Bartelstein already has a handshake deal with a team, perhaps Charlotte, which has the 24th pick, for McGary. That would seem to be highly improbable, given the fluid nature of the draft. It’s possible for the lottery picks perhaps to get a sense of where they might end up, but the bottom of the draft gets thrown out of whack with an unexpected pick.
The year Drew was drafted, the stunner came when the Kings picked Jason Williams at No. 7. Williams was a spectacular talent but he was erratic. No one had the Florida point guard pegged as a lottery pick except Sacramento. It changed the whole dynamic of the evening.
Drew brings up the story of Lubos Barton as a cautionary tale. Barton was a star forward for the Crusaders who supposedly was a lock for the NBA as a high first-round or second-round pick. He never got drafted. Barton still is playing in Europe.
In Drew’s case, he and Bartelstein pretty much knew he was going to end up at either Minnesota, Houston, Orlando or San Antonio. They all needed point guards, they all had picks in his range and they had all expressed interest in him.
He was slotted between 15 and 24. Ultimately, the Rockets, who were coached by Rudy Tomjanovich, took him with the 16th pick.
If Drew had to take an educated guess where he’d end up before the draft, it was would’ve been with Orlando. The Magic, coached by Chuck Daly, had brought him in twice for some intense one-on-one workouts.
The Magic selected Matt Harping, a 6-foot-7 small forward who went on to have a 12-year NBA career.
Drew had no idea Houston had drafted him until his name flashed across TV as a Rockets pick.
“I was thrilled,” he said. “It was a great system for me.”
In theory, it was great. In reality, it was fading championship team.
Drew essentially was selected to feed Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley the basketball and to be a catch-and-shoot guy.
That fizzled out after two years with an aging Olajuwon and a perpetually ailing Barkley. The Bulls signed Drew for a season, then he spent three years with the Hornets before retiring.
He has no idea if the workouts really help. Glenn Robinson III has worked out with every team in his draft range while McGary, because of the back injury, has only had one workout.
“Who knows? Maybe if he has a great workout with a team, he’ll get a higher pick,” Drew said.
Drew wouldn’t speculate on where McGary would go. He knows better. Everybody is guessing at this point. That’s what makes the night so interesting. The arc of both McGary’s and Robinson’s life will be permanently altered sometime between 8 and 9 p.m Thursday.
That thought alone is overwhelming for the people close to both of them and anyone interested in basketball in Northwest Indiana.