How Does the NBA Draft Work


How Does the NBA Draft Work

How Does the NBA Draft Work?

The NBA Draft is one of the most anticipated events in professional basketball, offering hope and excitement for teams and players alike. It’s a night where futures are decided, and the foundations of franchises are built. But how does this process work exactly? Let’s dive deep into the fascinating world of the NBA Draft.

History of the NBA Draft

Early Years

The NBA Draft began in 1947, shortly after the league was founded. Back then, the process was relatively simple, with teams selecting players based on regional preferences. This allowed teams to build their rosters with local talent, which was believed to boost fan engagement.

Evolution Over Time

Over the decades, the NBA Draft has evolved significantly. The introduction of the draft lottery in 1985 was a major turning point, designed to discourage teams from intentionally losing games to secure higher draft picks. This evolution has made the draft more fair and competitive, ensuring that the league remains balanced. Also, read about Increase Vertical Jump for Basketball 

Structure of the NBA Draft

Number of Rounds

The NBA Draft consists of two rounds. Each team gets one pick per round, making a total of 60 picks. The draft used to have more rounds, but it was shortened to ensure a higher quality of selections and to streamline the process.

Number of Picks per Round

Each round has 30 picks, corresponding to the 30 teams in the league. The order of these picks is determined by a combination of the draft lottery and regular-season records.

Eligibility Criteria

Age Requirements

To be eligible for the NBA Draft, a player must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft. This rule ensures that players have reached a certain level of maturity and skill before entering the professional league.

College Players

College players become eligible for the NBA Draft after playing at least one year of college basketball. This is known as the “one-and-done” rule. However, players can also declare for the draft after their freshman year or after completing their college eligibility.

International Players

International players can enter the draft if they turn 19 during the calendar year of the draft and are at least one year removed from high school graduation. This allows talented players from around the world to join the NBA, increasing the league’s global appeal.

Draft Lottery System

Purpose of the Lottery

The draft lottery was introduced to prevent teams from tanking, or deliberately losing games, to secure the top draft picks. It adds an element of chance, ensuring that even the worst teams have no guarantee of getting the top pick.

How the Lottery Works

The lottery determines the order of the first 14 picks. Teams that missed the playoffs are entered into the lottery, with the odds of winning the top pick weighted based on their regular-season records. The team with the worst record has the highest chance of getting the first pick, but it’s not guaranteed. Discover more about How to Improve Basketball Shooting Accuracy

Changes Over the Years

The lottery system has undergone several changes to make it fairer and more competitive. In 2019, the NBA adjusted the odds to discourage tanking even further, giving the three worst teams an equal 14% chance of securing the top pick.

Pre-Draft Process
Pre-Draft Process

Pre-Draft Process


Scouting is a crucial part of the pre-draft process. Teams spend countless hours evaluating players, watching games, and analyzing statistics to determine who might fit best with their roster.


The NBA Draft Combine is an event where top prospects showcase their skills in front of team executives. It includes physical measurements, athletic testing, and on-court drills. Performance at the combine can significantly impact a player’s draft stock.

Team Workouts

After the combine, players often participate in individual workouts with teams. These workouts allow teams to get a closer look at prospects, assess their skills in a controlled environment, and conduct interviews to gauge their character and mentality.

Draft Night

Order of Events

Draft night is an exciting and nerve-wracking event. It begins with the lottery teams making their picks, followed by the playoff teams. The process is broadcast live, adding to the suspense and excitement.

What Happens When a Player is Drafted

When a player is drafted, they typically go on stage to shake hands with the NBA Commissioner and receive their team’s hat. This symbolic moment marks the beginning of their professional career. The player then participates in media interviews and often meets with their new team’s representatives.

Post-Draft Process

Rookie Contracts

Rookie contracts are standardized based on draft position. The higher the pick, the more lucrative the contract. These contracts include guaranteed money, but teams also have options to extend or adjust them in subsequent years.

Summer League

After the draft, rookies participate in the NBA Summer League, a series of exhibition games that allow them to showcase their skills and adjust to the professional level. It’s a critical time for players to make a strong impression on their new teams.

Training Camps

Training camps follow the Summer League, providing further opportunities for rookies to integrate with their teams, learn the playbook, and earn their spots on the roster.

Impact on Teams

Rebuilding Teams

For rebuilding teams, the draft is a lifeline. Securing top picks can accelerate their progress and turn them into contenders. It’s a chance to acquire young talent and build a strong foundation for the future.

Contending Teams

Even for contending teams, the draft can be valuable. Late first-round or second-round picks can provide depth and potentially uncover hidden gems who can contribute to a championship run.

Impact on Players

First Overall Pick

Being the first overall pick comes with immense pressure and expectations. These players are often seen as future superstars, and their performance is scrutinized closely.

Second Round Picks

Second-round picks have a different path. They often need to prove themselves more to secure a spot on the team. However, many second-rounders have gone on to have successful careers.

Undrafted Players

Undrafted players face an uphill battle but can still find success through hard work and perseverance. Many undrafted players have carved out significant roles in the NBA, showing that talent can emerge from anywhere.

Notable NBA Drafts

1984 Draft

The 1984 draft is considered one of the best ever, featuring legends like Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Charles Barkley. It’s a prime example of how transformative the draft can be.

1996 Draft

The 1996 draft produced numerous stars, including Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash. This class had a lasting impact on the league.

2003 Draft

The 2003 draft is famous for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. These players have defined an era and showcased the draft’s potential to shape the NBA.

Notable NBA Drafts
Notable NBA Drafts

Success Stories

Michael Jordan

Drafted third overall in 1984, Michael Jordan became one of the greatest players in NBA history, leading the Chicago Bulls to six championships and earning numerous accolades.

LeBron James

LeBron James, the first overall pick in 2003, has had a storied career, winning multiple championships and MVP awards while also becoming a global icon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo, selected 15th overall in 2013, has developed into an MVP and NBA champion, highlighting the draft’s ability to find talent beyond the top picks.

Busts and Disappointments

Anthony Bennett

Drafted first overall in 2013, Anthony Bennett struggled to live up to expectations and is often cited as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.

Darko Miličić

Darko Miličić, the second overall pick in 2003, failed to make a significant impact in the NBA, especially when compared to the stars drafted around him.

Greg Oden

Greg Oden, the first overall pick in 2007, showed promise but was plagued by injuries, preventing him from reaching his full potential.

Future of the NBA Draft

Potential Changes

The NBA is constantly looking to improve the draft process. Discussions about lowering the age limit and changes to the lottery system continue, aiming to make the draft more exciting and fair.

Impact of Globalization

As basketball grows globally, the draft will likely feature more international talent. This globalization can enhance the diversity and skill level in the NBA, making the league even more competitive and entertaining.


The NBA Draft is a complex and exciting process that shapes the future of the league. From the initial scouting to the final selection, every step is crucial in building a successful NBA career. Whether you’re a team executive, a player, or a fan, the draft represents hope, potential, and the promise of greatness.


What is the NBA Draft Lottery?

The NBA Draft Lottery is a system used to determine the order of the first 14 picks in the draft. It aims to prevent teams from intentionally losing games to secure higher picks.

How many rounds are in the NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft consists of two rounds, with each team getting one pick per round.

Can high school players enter the NBA Draft?

Currently, high school players cannot enter the NBA Draft directly. They must be at least one year removed from high school and 19 years old.

What is a draft bust?

A draft bust is a player who was highly anticipated and selected early in the draft but failed to meet expectations or make a significant impact in the NBA.

How do teams prepare for the NBA Draft?

Teams prepare for the NBA Draft through extensive scouting, attending the NBA Combine, conducting individual workouts, and analyzing player data to make informed decisions.

Leave a Comment