The NBA Draft Needs Formatting Changes to Keep Up

%28Courtesy+Wikimedia+Commons%29

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The draft is one of the most exciting events in sports, regardless of league. The NBA and NFL do their drafts very differently, to varying levels of success. There are fundamental differences between the two leagues, making sure that each draft is unique, but there are certainly things each could learn from the other to make the offseason more exciting.

The NBA Draft is two rounds with 30 picks in each round, for a total of 60 players drafted. The NFL Draft consists of seven rounds and typically between 250-260 players drafted. The large difference in amount of players drafted makes sense, as NFL rosters are 53 players in the regular season, while the NBA maxes out at 17. Even then, most teams don’t carry that many. This creates a difference in the way people discuss, cover, and watch the draft; the NFL Draft is a huge, three-day event, while the NBA Draft happens in the middle of the summer in one night.

A lot of casual sports fans look forward to the NFL Draft every year and are familiar with the top prospects and the teams picking at the start of the night. The NBA Draft is not nearly covered to this level by media and fans, with the impression being that really only the top five picks or so are relevant in the immediate future.

In my opinion, if the NBA wants to keep pace with the excitement and viewership that the NFL brings in for their draft, the NBA Draft needs to be rescheduled. Currently, the NBA Draft is typically held just a few weeks after the NBA Finals. Fans and media barely have time to wrap up coverage of the championship winner before diving headfirst into draft content. There isn’t enough time to build up hype and excitement for the event because the turnaround happens so fast. The NFL regular season ends in December and the Super Bowl is in early February. The NFL Draft does not occur until late April. That’s nearly three months for NFL media to focus solely on draft coverage. Compared to two or three weeks in the NBA, it’s clear where the difference lies.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could also experiment with adding extra picks to the draft. Because rosters are so small, it would be tough to justify adding 30 additional picks, given that many late second round choices are not brought to the roster as-is. The NBA could instead utilize the G-League to allow teams to draft players to stash in their affiliate team, similar to the Minor Leagues in the MLB. This adds more picks to the NBA Draft, creating a draft more similar to other leagues in terms of scope. A larger player pool would be easy to support with the number of talented young players around the world, and adds another entry point to the NBA for fringe draft prospects. 

The NBA is fundamentally different from the NFL, and therefore the draft has to be conducted differently. By nature, due to smaller rosters, the amount a later round draft pick can impact a team is more limited in basketball. However, a type of “farm system” utilizing the G-League could create not only more interest in the draft, but more interest in the G-League games. There are some hurdles to clear, as not every NBA team has an affiliate G-League roster and it would have to be negotiated in the CBA. 

The NBA Draft is not bad, but it does need some changes. The league is shooting itself in the foot by scheduling the draft so quickly after the postseason wraps up. The NBA does have a shorter offseason than the NFL, so there is not as much time to waste, but they would benefit from spreading things out a little more. Giving fans, players and front offices at least a month or so to breathe and prepare for a draft would be a welcome change, and while they’re at it, free agency should also be spread out from the draft. The way things are currently set up, there is a huge whirlwind of news and moves happening in a short time, making it impossible to keep up for the casual fan. Whether it’s through rescheduling the event or implementing the G-League with additional picks, I believe there needs to be updates to the NBA Draft in order to rekindle interest and keep pace with the NFL and other leagues around the world.

 

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