Draft picks are coveted assets in NBA circles. Even though drafts aren’t a sure thing, stumbling upon the best prospects and trusting your scouting department can be enough to turn a franchise’s fortunes around. Does the NBA Draft happen every year? Yes, it does, and many teams have struck gold and become contenders because of it.
For instance, the Spurs wouldn’t have won anything if Tim Duncan did not fall in their laps back in 1997; or what would have happened to Chicago if they didn’t draft Michael Jordan in 1984? But while San Antonio and Chicago nailed these picks, the draft may go both ways. Who would forget about Kwame Brown or Michael Olowakandi? That said, the draft is too important to pass up, and it’s always possible to uncover hidden gems.
How Does the NBA Draft Work?
The NBA Draft is a chance for teams to acquire younger players to improve their roster. How does the NBA Draft work?
The NBA Draft is set at two rounds, and teams take turns in selecting eligible players (more on the eligibility rules later). Each of the 30 NBA teams has a pick in each round unless the picks are traded to other teams in previous deals. That means, theoretically, every year, 60 players are drafted, but a team may opt to pass and select no one.
The NBA draft lottery determines the first 14 picks in the first round. It decides the order of selection for teams that did not make the playoffs the previous season, which are 14 teams in total. Since 1985, the league has used the lottery to disincentivize teams that intentionally want to lose games. Instead of giving the worst team the outright first pick of the subsequent draft, the other 13 teams still have a chance to get that coveted pick. Still, the team with the worst record receives more balls in the lottery than the other squads.
The remaining 16 picks are determined by reversing the previous regular season’s standings. The team with the best record gets the 30th pick, the second best gets the 29th pick, and so on. In the second round, teams simply pick in reverse order based on their standings from the previous regular season.
The NBA Draft Combine
The Combine is likened to a job fair for draft prospects. Prospective NBA players are assembled into a gym hoping to impress potential employers with interviews, tests, and good old-fashioned basketball scrimmages.
However, most draft hopefuls who attend the Combine are those looking to improve their stock. Most lottery picks are advised to stay out of the Combine to stay healthy and not hurt their chances.
Players are getting physically dissected at the Combine, which could be a double-edged sword. Teams may find out which players are adding a couple of inches more to their height while testing them for agility, vertical leaps, shooting skills, etc.
Draft Eligibility Rules
The league established a minimum age for eligibility in the NBA draft at 19 years old. They should also be at least a year removed from high school.
Any player who has graduated from high school or college in the United States during the past four years is immediately eligible for the draft. They are also immediately eligible if they have played under a professional contract for a team outside the United States.
Any non-international player who declares himself draft eligible prior to completing four years of college in the United States is considered an “early entry player.” This is often referred to as the “one and done” rule. Early entries must declare themselves for the draft at least 60 days before the date of the NBA Draft.
International players have slightly different rules set for them. Anyone who has lived outside the United States permanently for at least three years before the draft and played basketball is considered an international player. They cannot have graduated from high school in the United States and cannot have attended college there. Any international player 22 years and under is eligible to be drafted. 22 is the maximum age limit for NBA Draft hopefuls.
Both sides of the NBA have advocated for reform, albeit in opposing ways. Commissioner Adam Silver has made it known that the league wants to raise the minimum age to 20. Meanwhile, the National Basketball Players Association has attempted to lift this ban and reopen the “high school to pros” path once again. With the last Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire, look for the NBPA to re-negotiate the age limit.
Every year, the NBA sets a deadline for the declaration of draft eligibility. However, unlike before, those who initially declared may attend the Draft Combine, feel out the interest from teams, and choose whether to stay or back out of the draft.
How Often Does the NBA Draft Happen?
The NBA Draft happens every year, often late in June, days after the conclusion of the NBA Finals. This year, the draft was slated on June 23, 8 PM ET. Since 1989, the NBA Draft has been only two rounds but used to be longer. The 1960 NBA Draft lasted 21 rounds, while in 1984, the draft went on to seven.
How Many Picks are There in the NBA Draft Each Year?
Theoretically, there should be 60 players maximum drafted each year. That’s 30 each for two rounds. However, it’s not uncommon for teams to pass or refuse to select a player in the second round, especially if all of the prospects on their draft board are already gone. Other players not drafted in the first round may just inform teams through their agents to refrain from drafting them so that the players can sign contracts with any team of their liking.
Where is the NBA Draft Held?
The NBA Draft is usually held at the Barclays Center, the current home of the Brooklyn Nets. Barclays has been the host of the NBA Draft since 2013. The only exemption in recent years was in 2020 when the draft was held at the ESPN Headquarters.
Before 2013, the draft was held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, for two years. Before that, the NBA Draft was held at Madison Square Garden for many years. That’s no surprise since the NBA’s office is located in New York, so they must ensure that one of the most significant events of the ear is close.
Why Does the NBA Have a Draft?
Many have wondered why the NBA adopted the drafting of players instead of signing them outright. The answer is obvious: Without a draft, the wealthier NBA teams will have more money to sign the best players. That will kill the league’s parity and is terrible for business.
Even though the draft is not entirely foolproof, it gives the weaker teams a glimmer of hope. They may also package a lottery pick to acquire more established players. If one of the less wealthy teams has already drafted a player, a more affluent team could not just scoop him up. Balance in sports breeds interest, and the draft is one way to keep the NBA more competitive and less successful teams engaged.
What Happens When You Get Drafted in the NBA?
After you get drafted into the NBA, you will sign something that says a team drafted you. They own your rights, and without them renouncing it, you won’t be able to play with any other NBA team.
The salaries of the draftees are pre-determined, and the figures depend on what’s agreed upon in the latest CBA. Lottery picks are guaranteed, and first-round picks that get signed may do so for up to four years. More often than not, the first two years are fully guaranteed. That is why if you get picked in the lottery and sign a contract, you are pretty much set at $10 to $19 million.
Second-round picks and undrafted players are not as set financially as the first-rounders. They may get a two-way or Exhibit 10 contract, while some play in the G-League or overseas. If somehow an undrafted player makes an NBA roster, they’d get a salary of around $900,000 a season.
It’s true that the entire process is time-consuming and taxing on the prospects and their representatives, but if they persevere, they’ll reap the benefits in the end. The NBA pays its athletes the most, and even securing a deal for a spot at the end of the bench could alter your life financially in the best way possible.
Can NBA Teams Swap Draft Picks?
Yes, NBA teams can trade draft picks prior to and during the draft. These trades may involve only picks, a pick for a player, a future pick, or a combination of picks and players.
For example, the Luka Doncic and Trae Young swap in 2018 involved Dallas giving up its spot at No. 5 to acquire Atlanta’s No. 3 pick. The Mavericks also threw in a first-round pick that later became Cam Reddish. So, in essence, the Mavs traded the No. 5 pick, Trae Young, and a future first-rounder (that became Reddish) for the No. 3 pick, Luka Doncic.
Another example was the infamous 1996 trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Charlotte Hornets. To get the player he wanted, Kobe Bryant, Lakers GM Jerry West traded Vlade Divac to Charlotte so that the Hornets would select Bryant at No. 13 and send him to LA.
Trades of this nature are common. However, there are certain limitations. The Stepien Rule prohibits teams from trading away their first-round draft pick for two years in a row. The restriction was enacted after Ted Stepien, the controversial owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1980 to 1983, traded the team’s first-round pick five years in a row.
Wrapping Things Up: Does the NBA Draft Happen Every Year?
The NBA Draft is a way to enact parity in the league. How does the NBA Draft work? It works by giving the teams with the worse records a chance to pick first among a crop of new basketball players looking to earn their stripes in the premier pro league. Striking gold is not a guarantee, Darko Milicic and Hasheem Thabeet are constant reminders, but sometimes, that chance is all a team needs.
For instance, the San Antonio Spurs, the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Golden State Warriors changed their fortunes because of a draft pick. After swooping up a franchise player, these teams won a combined 16 titles!
Does the NBA Draft happen every year? Yes, it does. It is usually scheduled in late June after the NBA Finals. The NBA Draft is the first domino to fall before the free agency fiasco that begins on July 1. In this annual event, 60 players are picked over the course of two rounds, although it could be less if a team decides to pass.
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