The NBA has reportedly moved up the 2020 draft lottery by a few days, with the lottery now planned to take place on 20 August, just three days after the first round of playoffs.
As with most other professional sporting leagues around the world, the US National Basketball Association (NBA) has been on hiatus for the last four months due to the global coronavirus pandemic. However, they have now announced that the season will restart in the Orlando, Florida area on 30 July.
The season will reopen with eight seeding games for each time followed by a number of possible play-in games scheduled for mid-August. Once these games have been played and the playoff teams decided, the league will be ready for its draft lottery, with the earlier 20 August date giving teams the opportunity for more robust scouting based on their position at the time.
Reporter Shams Charania of The Athletic, who broke the news of the earlier draft lottery on Twitter, said the draft remains scheduled for 16 October assuming all goes well and there are no more pandemic-related stoppages.
Since its launch in 1985, the NBA’s draft lottery has given the teams who had missed the playoffs the previous year participate in a lottery process to determine the draft order in the NBA draft and keep the league competitive. Last season, the NBA opted to flatten the odds of the lottery lottery in an effort to improve fairness, and it appears the change was a success. The New Orleans Pelicans, with a six percent chance to win the lottery, emerged victorious and selected Duke Blue Devils phenom Zion Williamson who went on to become first teenager in NBA history to score more than 20 points in ten consecutive games.
To govern the 2020 NBA draft lottery odds, the league will stick with the same system as last year. The 14 teams in the lottery will consist of the eight teams whose seasons have already ended plus the six teams that will be eliminated over the next few weeks once play resumes. The places in the lottery of teams nine to 14 will not be determined until the final games of the 2019-20 NBA season have officially concluded, but the list so far is:
NCAA players who have declared for the 2020 NBA Draft will have until 10 days after the completion of the NBA Draft combine, the multi-day showcase that takes place every May before the annual NBA draft, to withdraw their declaration. It remains uncertain whether Covid-19 restrictions will be eased in time to hold the combine, but if there is no combine then draft-declared players would have until 3 August to withdraw their declaration and opt to return to school.
Whilst every team will be keen to win the draft lottery, the class of 2020 does not offer the kind of difference-making talent that was on offer in the 2019 draft. Beyond Williamson, second overall pick guard Ja Morant was an instant plus for the Sacramento Kings. He was scoring 17.6 points per game and dishing 6.9 assists per contest. The Miami Heat duo of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro both scored with per-game averages in the double digits. R.J. Barrett (New York Knicks), Coby White (Chicago Bulls), Erich Paschall (Golden State Warriors), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards) and Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers) were all solid contributors. In total, 15 rookies were scoring in double digits when the season was halted by COVID-19.
Not only is this year’s class not generating that kind of heat, there’s not even a consensus about who should be coveted the most by the team that ultimately wins the NBA Draft Lottery. Some NBA mock drafts like Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards at No. 1 overall. Others mock out with point guard LaMelo Bell coming off the board first. Bell played in Australia this season with the Illawarra Hawks.
For teams seeking to add size, Memphis center James Wiseman, at 7’1″ and 240-pounds and with a 7’6″ wingspan, could be an inviting option.