Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drawing Straws and Here Come The Rookies

Tomorrow is Draft Day, so in the spirit of Higher Learning, we're going to have a brief lesson on how the NBA circulates the talent pool:

The Draft, or Oh Shit Here Come The FNGs:
The deadline for declaring eligibility is 60 days prior to Draft Day, with potential draftees given until 10 days before the draft to back out if they change their minds. They must be at least nineteen years old and/or one year out of high school, and if they are not drafted run the risk of losing their college eligibility. That may change in the next year or so; the league is considering raising the minimum age to 22.

The talent pool is evaluated, the NBA processes the data gathered, and the Draft is announced listing players in order of their potential awesomeness. Quick hits; Jason Kidd was a #2 pick in 1994, Stackhouse was #3 in 1995, Dirk was #9 in 1998, Jet Terry was #10 in 1999, Dampier was #10 in 1996, J-Ho was #29 in 2003, and Brandon Bass was #33 in 2005. Teams then get to select from that list, with a lottery system determining who gets first dibs -- see below. The draft is conducted in two rounds of thirty (one pick per team per round), for a total of sixty brand-spandy-new NBA rookies.

List of prospective draftees here.

The Lottery, or Fate as a Bingo Tank:
How it works is the 14 teams who didn't make the NBA playoffs are each given a list of four number codes. The team with the worst record gets the most codes (250), therefore has the best chance of scoring a number one pick (odds are about one in four).

On Lotto Day, a group of NBA officials, team representatives, and some media guys acting as witnesses (check this out for an eyewitness account) enter a room. Cell phones, laptops, and PDAs are left outside. The door is locked. A set of ping-pong balls numbered 1 to 14 are dropped into a lotto randomizer, left to cook for exactly twenty seconds, and four are drawn. The team holding those four numbers (doesn't matter what order they're drawn in) gets the #1 draft pick. Process repeated for picks 2 and 3. Picks 4 through 30 are handed out in inverse order of win-loss ratio.

This year's lottery was held on May 20. The Chicago Bulls (33-49) came away with the #1 pick, the Miami Heat (15-67) #2, and the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60) got #3. Click for the full list of picks.

A side-effect of the lottery that wasn't anticipated (correct me if I'm wrong on this) is the incentive for teams that aren't doing well in the regular season to delibrately run their record down in the hopes of scoring one of the first three picks. Hence the pissing and moaning in Dallas about how the team should've quit trying to even make the playoffs this year and just taken our chances with the lottery.

Fuck that shit, says I. If there isn't nobility in trying, why bother competing at all? Boring rant for another day.

A more in-depth look at talent rotation, free agency, what about the undrafted, and so on later. Right now Dallas only has one draft pick, #51. The first round pick (#21) went to the New Jersey Nets as part of the trade for Jason Kidd. Word around the campfire is the Organization is going to try and buy our way back into Round One.


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