The NFL already had their draft a little while back and now we know the NBA Draft will be taking place on Friday, October 16th. Yet their draft lottery will take place on Tuesday, August 25th.
This is further out, sure, but it is also planned for the NBA season to restart on July 30th. Normally, the NBA Finals would have already taken place and come to a close. This would have given front office staffs across the NBA a chance to focus on the draft for a while. As of now, this is a bit harder to do as no one truly knows where they stand since the NBA had to postpone its season months back.
They were hesitant to do so, but COVID-19 impacted them through two Utah Jazz players, Rudy Gobert and Donovon Mitchell (a recent corona virus test conducted on 302 players revealed positive results for 16 of those players). As a result, they had no choice and now we're all stuck in this position of not knowing exactly where everything stands.
They'd also know what they needed to address across different sectors of their team. From re-signing to free agents, all of this still has to take place and the NBA Draft comes about in-between it all. With this being in the way, they also still have to safely evaluate players.
NCAA & NBA Entry/Withdrawal Changes
The NBA Draft Lottery was set to take place on May 19th, with the combine originally taking place from May 21st to 23rd. The NBA draft itself was then going to take place on June 24th. All of those dates were pushed back, of course.
What tends to happen in these cases is that a player in college will declare for the draft often months ahead of time. They can do this but simply cannot take on an agent until their season concludes. Merely declaring is not a big deal. However, the deadline for declaring and withdrawing was impacted by COVID-19 too.
The NBA set their declaring deadline originally for April 26th, which was a few weeks before their draft lottery would go down. This has since been changed to August 17th. Most players tend to do this relatively early, however. Most players considering coming out likely already have too.
This year, 205 players have declared thus far. Most are college players with 163 of them going to an American college. However, 42 are international. This is down from the previous year that included 233 players. While the college number was only off by a bit, the international number was at 58 last year.
It's likely that this is the area most affected by COVID, as some of their seasons really never got going for long. Therefore, it makes sense that some want to stay another year.
The original NBA Draft withdrawal deadline set by the NCAA was June 15th. This would have given players the time to see how they could look in the combine and evaluate whether they should return to school or not.
That has since been altered. Now, the NCAA announced that, in order to retain eligibility, players must withdraw by August 3rd or 10 days after the NBA Draft combine. Whichever makes the most sense. The NBA set their withdrawal deadline, however, to October 6th.
Since the NBA set their early entry and withdrawal deadlines after the NCAA's date, the NCAA will have to switch up their previous plans. Basically, if no combine is present, they may just decide to go with the same withdrawal deadline the NBA handed out.
NBA Draft Combine
With the NBA Draft being pushed back to October, this will obviously impact the NBA Combine. Remember, the original combine was going to take place in May due to the draft going down in June. With this altering due to COVID, it is likely that the combine moves into September if it is to even takes place at all. Back in March and even through the month of May, there wasn't any information on the Combine. It was postponed indefinitely and at one point, there was a theory that the NBA would not even have one.
The concept most liked was the idea of a virtual combine, but altered a bit. Everyone would do the same stuff, given instructions by the NBA for what they want to see from a player. They can then use their local gym along with their teammates and coaches to help them. Of course, all of this is being done to help prevent the spreading of COVID.
The same types of things you see at a regular combine could all be done, likely filmed, and sent in. Others want to see this done live in front of an NBA official, who would then tape it to send to NBA front offices, coaches and scouts. This prevents any sort of lying, swaps, video editing, etc.
Another concept many like is the specific workout request for a team interested in a player. This becomes, essentially, a Pro-Day if many request the player. If it is a specific team, then they'd only do this for said team. Interviews, of course, would work the same way. All being done virtually, if possible.
Scouts often travel overseas to Europe to see international players live around April or May usually. There are still games going on where they can get an idea of what a player can do. Of course, that did not happen this year. Most basketball leagues are now shut down until further notice, so the international stars may also send virtual work-outs over to the NBA. This would be the same as the college players in America.
New NBA Draft Lottery
The NBA announced all their playoff-eligible teams recently, which removes those teams from the NBA Draft Lottery. Before all of this COVID-19 stuff, the NBA had previously announced that they were doing something different for this year's draft lottery.
Currently, the teams with the best shot at the #1 Pick are the: Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, & Minnesota Timberwolves. These are the teams with the worst records, but all three have the same shot at #1 this year with 14%. Yet they have a 52% chance of staying in the Top 4. The team with the worst record has a 47.9% chance of falling to #5. Meanwhile, they had a 35.7% chance of falling to just #4 overall.
Also as part of the new system, the teams in slots 6 through 9 have a 20 to 37% chance of ending up in the Top 5! The previous system saw this happen 6 to 22% of the time. Therefore, we could see some VERY interesting results in the lottery this year.
This was done in an effort to discourage teams from tanking to get the best lottery odds. Any other year, it likely would have been beloved by fans and given more fanfare. Of course, it's understandable why we don't see that currently.