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NBA Draft History
NBA Draft is
divided into two rounds. The order of selections is based on certain
rules. The first turns of the draft belong to the 14 teams that did not
playoffs in that year's season. These teams participate in a
lottery that determines the spot each team will have in the draft.
The next 16 spots in the
draft are reserved for the teams that made it into that season's
playoffs. The order of these 16 teams' selection is determined by
their regular-season win-loss record, going from worst to best.
Therefore, the team with the best record selects last in the draft. Note
that the team with the best record is not necessarily the champion; for
example, in the
2004 NBA Draft, the last pick did not go to the NBA champion
Detroit Pistons, but rather to the
This same order is carried
on to the second round. However, teams are allowed to trade their turns
in the draft during season player deals. Therefore, the structure of the
second round can sometimes be very different than that of the first
round because of trades.
Each team in the league is
obligated to make at least one selection during the entire draft. Also,
league rules prohibit a team from trading future first-round picks in
consecutive years. This rule was created partially as a reaction to the
practices of the
Cleveland Cavaliers in the early 1980s.
Ted Stepien, who owned the team from 1980 to 1983, made
a series of trades for players of questionable value that cost the team
several years of first-round picks. The trades nearly destroyed the
franchise; the NBA pressured Stepien into selling out, and in order to
get a solid local owner (Gordon
Gund), the league had to sweeten the deal by giving the Cavaliers
several future bonus draft picks.
Note, however, that this
rule only requires each team to have a first-round pick, not
necessarily their pick. Some examples illustrating this rule
follow. These examples assume that the 2005 NBA Draft has already taken
- For the purposes of this
discussion, let us assume that the San Antonio Spurs have no
first-round pick in 2005, but have their first-round picks, and no
others, in all future years. The Spurs may freely trade their 2006
first-round pick, since its 2005 pick is no longer a future
pick. However, they cannot trade away their first-round picks for 2006
and 2007, or in any other consecutive years.
- The Spurs make a trade
after the 2005 draft, picking up another team's first-round pick for
2007. Now, the Spurs can trade their own 2006 and 2007
first-round picks, since they still have a 2007 first-round pick.
All U.S. players are
automatically eligible upon the end of their college eligibility. A U.S.
player is also allowed to declare his eligibility for the draft at any
time between high school graduation and the completion of college
eligibility. An international player may declare eligibility in the
calendar year of his 18th birthday, or later. The NBA has established
two draft declaration dates. All players who wish to be drafted, and are
not automatically eligible, must declare their eligibility on or before
the first declaration date. Following this, the NBA runs several
pre-draft camps for prospective draftees to allow them to show their
skills to the league's teams. A player may withdraw his name from
consideration from the draft at any time before the final declaration
date, one week before the draft date. This can be important for college
players. Players do not lose their college eligibility by declaring for
the draft on the initial date; however, if they stay in the draft at the
final declaration date, they lose further college eligibility, whether
or not they are drafted. Also, signing with an
agent automatically ends a player's college eligibility.
When a player is selected
in the first round of the draft, the team that selected him is obligated
to sign him to at least a one-year contract. Players selected in the
second round are "owned" by the team for three years, but the
teams are not obligated to sign them.
The earlier in the draft a
player is selected, the higher his worth. The first pick of the draft is
usually the best player available in the field. However, being the first
pick doesn't necessarily means that the player will be a superstar.
Michael Jordan was the third pick of the 1984 NBA draft,
and yet he is generally recognized as the greatest player of all time.
The two players selected ahead of Jordan in that draft illustrate the
uncertainty of the draft. While the first pick,
Hakeem Olajuwon, went on to a career that will certainly put him in
Hall of Fame, the second pick,
Bowie, ended up a journeyman with a relatively short and
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