All You Need to Know About the NBA Draft
The NBA Draft is an annual event in which the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) select players who are eligible to enter the league. The draft is held in June, ahead of the start of the next NBA season. Let’s take a look at how the NBA Draft works, its history, and relevant dates for the 2022 NBA Season.
How Does the NBA Draft Work?
Eligibility for the draft is determined by a combination of factors, including age, nationality, and educational background. Players must be at least 19 years old and must not have been enrolled at a college or university for more than four years to be eligible. In addition, players from outside the United States are only eligible if they turn 22 during the calendar year of the draft.
The process for choosing players in the NBA Draft begins with the so-called “NBA Draft Combine”, where prospective draftees undergo a series of physical and psychological tests. These tests are used to help teams assess the players’ abilities and potential. During the NBA Combine, the league also holds the NBA Lottery, which determines the order that teams will be making their picks at the Draft. The order of selection is determined by a combination of factors, including the previous season’s standings, playoffs results, and whether a team has won or lost a lottery to decide the top pick. Currently, the NBA Draft Lottery odds are such that each of the top 3 teams has a 14% chance of securing the first pick, the next team has a 12.5% chance, and team number five has a 10% chance.
Once the draft order has been set and teams have had a chance to meet potential picks and deliberate among their options, it is time for the actual NBA Draft to take place. Since 1989, the NBA Draft has included two rounds, making it the shortest entry draft of all the professional North American sports. Each draft class is composed of 60 selections, or two per team. Players who are not selected in the draft become free agents and are eligible to sign with any team.
The NBA Draft is an important event for both players and teams. For players, it represents a chance to enter the league and begin their professional careers. For teams, it provides an opportunity to add young talent to their rosters.
In recent years, the draft has been televised live, and it has become one of the most anticipated events on the NBA calendar. In fact, over the past decade, the NBA draft has become one of the most-watched sporting events in the world.
NBA Draft History
When it comes to the history of NBA Draft, the first one took place on June 6, 1947. It was a relatively small affair, with only six teams participating. The very first pick in the draft was Clint Richardson, who was drafted by the Chicago Stags.
The draft has undergone several changes since its inception. In 1951, the number of rounds was increased from seven to ten. In 1966, it was reduced back down to seven rounds. In 1985, it was once again increased to ten rounds. And finally, in 1989, it was changed to its current format of two rounds.
One of the most significant changes to the history of the NBA draft came in 1966, when the NBA and the American Basketball Association (ABA) held a joint draft. The ABA had been formed in 1967 and was seen as a rival to the NBA. The two leagues held a joint draft in an effort to prevent players from moving to the ABA.
The first player to be drafted from the ABA was Connie Hawkins, who was selected by the Phoenix Suns. Hawkins had been banned from the NBA due to allegations of point shaving, but he went on to have a successful career in the ABA.
In 1976, the NBA draft saw its first foreign-born player when Mychal Thompson from the Bahamas was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers. Thompson went on to have a successful 17-year career in the NBA, winning two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
More recently, in 2019, Zion Williamson from Duke University was selected with the first overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans. Williamson was widely considered to be the best player in the draft class and was expected to have a very successful NBA career. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance at times since then, he has so far struggled to stay on the court, missing large chunks of time due to injury. In 2020, the 1st overall pick was Anthony Edwards — selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Edwards has so far looked as good as advertised, recently leading Timberwolves to their first playoff appearance since 2018. Finally, in 2021 the Detroit Pistons made Cade Cunningham the top overall pick, selecting him 3 spots ahead of eventual Rookie of The Year Scottie Barnes.
Best Draft Class NBA
Although there is some argument among basketball fans, the best NBA draft class of all time is most often considered to be one of the following three:
- The class of 1984 – featuring several future Hall of Famers, such as Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.
- The class of 1996 – featuring Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Antoine Walker, and Stephon Marbury.
- The class of 2003 – featuring LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
The worst NBA draft class of all time is widely considered to be the class of 2000, which featured several busts, such as Stromile Swift, DerMarr Johnson, and Marcus Fizer (if you said ‘who?’ to any of those names, we wouldn’t blame you).
What Do NBA Scouts Look For?
When compiling NBA Draft grades, scouts look for a variety of different things. Of course, they want players who are tall, fast, and strong. But they also want players who are smart, have a high basketball IQ, and are good decision makers.
Players who can shoot the ball well from long range are always in demand. So too are players who have the ability to drive to the basket and finish at the rim. Players who can do both are considered to be especially valuable. Defensive ability is also something that scouts look for. Players who can defend multiple positions are extremely valuable, as they can provide flexibility to a team’s defensive game plan.
Finally, scouts also look at a player’s character. It is often equally as important — if not even more so — to draft players who will fit well into whatever system each team is running than picking the player with the best basketball skills. Of course, when it comes to the top of the draft, sometimes a player is so special — Lebron James in 2003, for example — that all ‘team system’ plans are essentially thrown out the window and rebuilt with the drafted player at its core.
NBA Draft 2022 - Important Dates & Information
When is the NBA Draft Lottery and when is the NBA Draft Day?
The 2022 NBA Lottery took place on May 17th, 2022. The 2022 NBA Draft date is June 23rd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. As mentioned previously the draft will consist of two rounds, with 60 picks in total. With the lottery having come and gone, here are the NBA Draft Lottery results (aka the NBA Draft order):
- Oklahoma City
- New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
- San Antonio
- New York
- Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers)
- Charlotte (from New Orleans)
- Houston (from Brooklyn)
- San Antonio (from Toronto)
- Memphis (from Utah)
- San Antonio (from Boston)
- Golden State
- Oklahoma City (from Phoenix)
As you can see, OKC had perhaps the best NBA draft results, earning picks 2, 12, and 30.
NBA Mock Draft 2022
With the Orlando Magic holding the first pick of the 2022 NBA Draft thanks to their 14% NBA Draft odds, it remains anyone’s guess who they will select. The general consensus appears to be either Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren, but there is a lot less certainty for how the top of the Draft Board will play out this year compared to recent years.
Rounding out the top 3 prospects is Paolo Banchero, with Jaden Ivey getting a little buzz as well thanks to being the only PG in the shortlist of top talents. In fact, Ivey could get some serious consideration from the Sacramento Kings if he’s still available at #4, even though the team seems somewhat set in their backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and last year’s first-round pick Davion Mitchell. If he should slip to #5, it would be hard to imagine the Detroit Pistons not being ecstatic at scooping him up.
Beyond that, some other names to watch in the top 10 are Jalen Duren, A.J. Griffin, Shaedon Sharp, and Bennedict Mathurin. Of course, as with any NBA mock draft, these names are nothing more than speculation at this point.
When and Where to Watch the 2022 NBA Draft
Fans can tune in to both ABC and ESPN on June 23rd to watch the first round of the Draft. The NBA draft time is set for 7:30 pm EST. ESPN will be hosting its 20th consecutive NBA Draft, with Barclays Center marking its home for the 9th time this year.
Interesting Facts About the NBA Draft & NBA Draft Lottery
- The first-ever NBA Draft took place in 1947 and featured just six picks.
- The very first pick ever selected in the NBA Draft was Clifton McNeeley, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Ironmen. Strangely enough, with the franchise shutting down before the start of the following season, McNeeley never played a single professional basketball game.
- Chuck Cooper and Earl Lloyd became the first two African-American players taken in the NBA draft in 1950.
- The shortest player ever selected in the NBA Draft is Muggsy Bogues, who was taken 12th overall by the Washington Bullets in 1987. Bogues measured in at just 5’3″.
- The tallest player ever drafted who actually played in an NBA game is Manute Bol, who was selected 31st overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1985. Bol stood 7’7″.
- Anthony Bennett, who was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013, was not only the first pick but also the first Canadian player to ever be drafted first overall.
- Speaking of Canada, since 1989 there have been 33 Canadians selected in the NBA Draft including at least one Canadian player selected in 10 of the past 11 drafts. The most Canadians ever selected in a single year was in 2019 when a record six players were picked by NBA teams.
- Michael Jordan (1984), Kevin Durant (2007), and Kyrie Irving (2011) are all recent examples of players who were not selected first overall but have gone on to have Hall of Fame caliber careers.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers have had the most first overall picks in NBA history with six, including 3 in the span of 4 years — Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013), and Andrew Wiggins (2014).
- In 2020, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball made NBA history as the first set of brothers drafted in Top 3.
- In 2011, Markieff and Marcus Morris became the third set of twins to be chosen in the first round of the NBA draft, following Horace and Harvey Grant, as well as Brook and Robin Lopez.
- The father of Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson – Mychal Thompson – was the first international player (Bahamas) ever to be selected with the first overall pick (1978).
- The only two international top picks to make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame are Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming.
The NBA Draft is one of the most anticipated events on the basketball calendar. Fans can watch coverage of both the first and second rounds live on ABC and ESPN, with the action kicking off at 7:30 pm EST on June 23rd. Whether you’re a fan of college basketball or just love to see the next batch of stars set to take the league by storm, there’s plenty to enjoy about this year’s draft. With so many talented players available, it will be interesting to see who ends up where – especially considering how unpredictable the NBA Draft Lottery can be. Be sure to tune in and find out!
NBA Draft FAQ
What do college scouts look for in basketball?
There is no one answer to this question as college scouts can be looking for a variety of things when evaluating potential players. Some scouts may prioritize finding players with a high level of athleticism, while others may put more emphasis on finding players who are skilled shooters or have the ability to make plays for their teammates. Ultimately, it depends on what the specific needs of the team are and what the scout believes will help the team succeed.
Can you go to the NBA without college?
Yes. Players have to be 19 years old during the draft calendar year, and at least one season has had to pass since their graduation from high school.
Who is the oldest NBA player?
Currently, the oldest NBA player is Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat at the age of 41.
Will I get drafted if I'm in college?
This is impossible to predict as there are a multitude of factors that go into the draft process. However, with only 60 players drafted per season and thousands upon thousands eligible, the odds are as tough – if not tougher – as any other highly sought-after position.
Is it hard to get into the NBA?
With only 450 roster spots available in the NBA, making it into the league is an incredibly tough endeavor that even some of the best players in the world are sometimes unable to crack.
What age did LeBron join the NBA?
LeBron James was drafted into the NBA as the first overall pick at just 18 years old.
How do you get into the NBA Academy?
NBA Academy try-outs are by invitation only. NBA Academy sends out scouts all over the world to evaluate young players.
How does the draft work?
The draft works by giving the teams with the worst records from the previous season the best odds of receiving the top pick in the draft. This is known as the draft lottery. The three teams with the worst record will have a 14% chance of receiving the first overall pick. After the order has been set, each team will have 5 minutes to make their selection or trade their pick.
What is the draft age limit?
Players may not sign with the NBA until they are 18 years or older. There is no upper age limit.
What skills do you need for the NBA?
There is no definitive answer to this question as each player brings their own unique skill set to the table. However, some skills that are often considered important at the NBA level include shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding, and defense.
When is NBA Draft?
The NBA draft will take place on June 23rd at 7:30 pm ET.