There has been a lot of news about the NBA draft recently. But what is the draft in the NBA and other U.S. sports?
A draft system is used in the NBA but also the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. It’s a system for allowing all the teams in a league a share in employing — or "drafting" — 60 promising new players from U.S. colleges or abroad before each new season.
The NBA draft is specifically designed to give the teams who did worst in the previous season the first chance to pick new players, which generally means they pick the players who are considered the best. (The prospective players participate in the NBA Combine in May, a sort of showcase where they play against each other to try to impress coaches from the different teams.)
The bottom 14 teams in the previous season are entered into a lottery which decides the order in which they can pick in the first of two rounds. Then the 16 top teams pick in reverse order, with the league champion picking last. In the second round, the teams simply pick in reverse order from the worst to the best in the previous season.
Each team in turn announces its pick and the player concerned comes forwards to receive the cap with the badge of their new team.
This explainer from NBA Europe has some clear graphics explaining the system, it can even be used without sound.
In His Hero's Footsteps
For the 2023 Draft, there was one clear favourite in the prospective rookies: French 2.19m phenomenon Victor Wembanyama. He was delighted when the San Antonio Spurs won the Draft lottery, meaning they had first pick. As expected, they chose Wembanyama, who is delighted to join the Texas team where his hero, fellow French star Tony Parker, was a rookie and played almost all his career. Parker was the first French played enter the NBA Hall of Fame, in the class of 2023, and Wembanyama is the first French player to be the top pick in the draft. Who knows how many other firsts are to come?
An emotional Wembanyama showed off his excellent English in this interview after the pick.
The 2023 draft contained other first: Amen and Ausar Thompson are the first twins to be drafted in the top five, for the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons respectively.