The 2020 NBA draft will be held on November 18th, 2020 at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut – subject to change. The date has been pushed back to facilitate the resolution of details such as the advanced discussions relating to the start date for 2020-21 season and further negotiations between the NBA and the National Basketball players Association regarding Collective Bargaining Agreement matters.
This year’s draft lottery took place on August 20, at the NBA office in Secaucus, New Jersey and was won by the Minnesota Timberwolves who will take first overall pick in NBA draft 2020. The NBA draft lottery relates only to the 14 teams who failed to reach the play-offs in the previous regular season – under current rules only the top 3 picks are decided this way. The lottery was introduced in 1985 as a measure aimed to preserve the integrity of the competition by preventing teams from deliberately losing in order to gain a higher pick. As a result, rather than a ‘race to the bottom’ in which the worst performing team would be rewarded by attaining the best player in the pick, the winner of the lottery will instead be handed the first selection.
The NBA draft itself is an annual event in which teams select players from American colleges and international professional leagues to join their rosters. The draft has taken place every year since 1947, the year in which Clifton McNeely made history by becoming the first player ever drafted in the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the precursor to the NBA, for the Pittsburgh Ironmen. The idea of the draft was originally intended to control salaries by stamping out competitive bidding by assigning exclusive rights to the team selecting the player and in the modern game, that fundamental purpose of the draft remains the same; when a team selects a player, they have the exclusive rights to sign him to an NBA contract.
The draft is separated into 2 rounds and each of the 30 NBA teams has a pick in each round, meaning every year 60 players are drafted.
The lottery does not apply for the 2nd round in which teams are delegated a pick in reverse order based on the previous regular season’s standings.
For the players entering the draft, there are eligibility requirements that must be met:
To be considered eligible to be drafted, a player must be at least 19 years of age in the calendar year of the draft and be at least 1 year removed from high school graduation – unless they have been granted the status of an ‘international player’.
An international player is defined as anyone who has permanently resided outside of the US for at least 3 years prior to the draft while playing basketball. They must not have never enrolled in an American college and must not have completed high school in the US.
Players can qualify automatically for the draft if they complete four years of college in the US, or 4 years has elapsed since the date of their high school class graduation.
They are also automatically eligible if they have been contracted to play professionally for a team anywhere in the world, outside of the NBA.
Another caveat to the requirements is the ‘early entry’ player. An individual categorised as a non-international player who elects to declare themselves eligible for the draft without having completed 4 years of college in the US.
Early entry players must have at least 1 year of college basketball under their belts in college; a stipulation that has come to be referred to as the ‘one and done rule’. The players entering via this route must declare themselves eligible at least 60 days prior to the draft.
One common method employed by clubs to maximise their advantage during the draft process is to participate in the practice of trading draft picks. Draft picks can be traded among teams both before and during the draft – these trades can be in the form of straightforward picks alone, or a combination of players and picks.
To highlight the prevalence of trading in draft proceedings in 2019, 15 of the 30 picks in the first round were traded and 5 trades took place on draft night. There are some restrictions though that have been imposed courtesy of the Stepien Rule; a regulation introduced to prevent teams from trading their first-round draft pick in consecutive years.
In recent years, some of the most high-profile NBA recruits have come directly from high school; Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are just some of the names that arrived in the NBA via this pathway. However, as a result of the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), NBA teams can no longer select players directly out of high school – the new guidelines prohibit players from recruitment until they are at least one year removed from their high school graduation.
1984 is remembered as one of the most famous draft years of all time. The class of ’84 which included Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton produced four Hall of Famers, 7 All-Stars and a future NBA head coach in Rick Carlisle. It will go down in history as the last draft conducted using the coin-flip system which was replaced by the draft lottery process that is still in use today.
This year’s favourite for the number 1 overall pick is Georgia’s Anthony Edwards – he’ll be hoping to emulate last year’s number one pick Zion Williamson of New Orleans Pelicans who rounded off his breakthrough year by claiming a spot on the 2020 NBA’s All-Rookie First team.