NBA’s first virtual draft set to premiere on Nov. 18

Basketball wrapped in scrunchie
Illustration by Alys Chang

The National Basketball Association’s annual draft, scheduled for Nov. 18, will be held virtually for the first time in league history. The NBA initially explored the possibility of having a socially distanced draft, but the league’s top officials ultimately decided on an online format that is more conducive to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. While the draft will still have a physical headquarters in Connecticut, it will not contain any players or team executives and will instead be used by ESPN to conduct and televise the draft.

The players, families and coaches that are included in the event will participate via video conference. NBA fans at Lewis & Clark can tune in to ESPN’s nationally televised broadcast or they can use the official WatchESPN app, which will be live-streaming the draft. The event is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. PST and will last around two hours.   

Some of the marquee names in this year’s draft include Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. Each of these 19-year-old players has not completed a full season of college basketball, but their inexperience has not deterred draft experts from projecting them as likely top five picks. Edwards is currently projected as the number one overall pick by ESPN and Sports Illustrated, due in part to Ball’s purported “failing” of his pre-draft interviews.  

On Nov. 5, the NBA accepted a late December start date for next season, which did not sit well with its players and coaches. With the draft set to begin on Nov. 18, a December start date will leave teams with relatively little time to develop their incoming rookies. In a typical off-season, they would have upwards of four months to practice, meaning that coaches will have to alter their training programs and adjust to a somewhat limited schedule.   

Additionally, some of the most well-known players in the NBA might not play at the beginning of the season if they need more time to rest or train. Lakers star LeBron James, for instance, will likely sit out until January according to his teammate Danny Green, who noted that James will be entering his 18th season and logged a large number of minutes during the 2020 playoffs. With that said, the sooner the NBA gets back into action, the sooner they can make up the $450 million in lost revenue from this past season.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has intoned that he does not want to jeopardize the health of the players, but he also stated that he would like to “bring fans safely back into arenas as soon as possible.” It appears that he is unwilling to accept a shorter season (which would mean a January restart) and lose revenue for the sake of the players, although a fraction of them would rather have a December restart due to the Olympics potentially starting in July. Regardless, NBA fans at LC should be pleased to know that they will see their favorite players back on the court before Christmas.

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