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A Sports Shorts guide to the NBA Draft – 2019

Following last year’s overview of the NBA Draft and how it works by Sports Shorts, it is time for a Sports Shorts guide to this year’s action.

This year, the Draft will again be held at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York to determine who has sealed their dream to NBA stardom. This year’s rookie class is enjoying success and fandom in their debut season in the NBA: Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic received the third most All-Star votes by fans to appear in the All-Star match whilst Trae Young finished second in the All-Star skills challenge. The next rookie class is expected to reach the same heights, if not higher.

Duke’s Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are anticipated to be amongst the highest picks, along with Bol Bol – the 7ft2 son of the NBA alumnus Manute Bol.

As the college season reached its peak with March Madness, attention has turned to the Draft. The Draft Lottery will take place on 14 May. This is the process by which the order of the Draft system is allocated. The NBA’s system provides the teams with the worst records in the league with the best chance of obtaining the top pick in the Draft order. This year is the NBA’s first year applying a new system in which the draft lottery is expanded to the bottom four slots rather than only the bottom three. The bottom three teams will also now have equal odds of obtaining the number one pick in the Draft.

The NBA Draft Combine is an invitation only event, which takes place between 15 and 19 May. This provides prospects with an opportunity to work out and practice in the presence of NBA scouts.

In recent weeks, the NBA has come under pressure to scrap the “one-and-done” rule. This refers to its eligibility criteria for the Draft, which only allows an athlete to be drafted from the age of 19, effectively imposing on athletes a de facto condition to compete after High School for one year, usually at college. The rule was introduced in 2006 after a number of stars joined the NBA directly from high school. It was thought that the rule would enable athletes to mature on and off the court before joining basketball’s greatest league. However, this rule has faced criticism.

One of the top prospects for the 2019 Draft includes Darius Bazley, who was the top prospect in Ohio last year in his final year of High School. Bazley chose to bypass college and join the NBA’s sister league, the G League for one year before declaring for the Draft. This decision drew national attention but Bazley did not play in the G League and chose to train on his own for this entire season instead. The recently formed Junior Basketball Association – better known as the JBA – has been designed to grant high school and junior college players a professional route to the NBA without having to simultaneously pursue a university education. Athletes are paid and can receive sponsorship endorsements too. Ahead of this year’s Draft, Deon Lyle – a member of the JBA’s Chicago Ballers – and Jordan Ray – a member of the Atlanta Ballers – have both declared for the Draft.

Indeed, if these players are drafted despite their unconventional routes to the NBA, it could cast further scrutiny on the “one and done” rule and whether it is still necessary. This week, it has been reported that the NBA has submitted a request to the NBA Players’ Association to reduce the minimum draft age from 19 to 18. Such a decision is seemingly very popular amongst the existing NBA cohort and could be in effect from as early as 2022.

The 2019 Draft takes place on 20 June 2019.

© Copyright 2019 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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