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What to watch for leading up to 2009 Draft

By Jonathan Givony, for
Posted May 11 2009 2:03PM

The NBA Draft is upon us.

While the NBA playoffs unfold, nearly three-quarters of the league is sitting at home wondering what they can do this summer to avoid not playing in the month of May next year.

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A big part of that revolves around the NBA Draft, which is officially in session now that the early entry list has been released and teams are slowly beginning to schedule workouts.

How does it all come together, though? And what is the process teams go through to help decide which players to select on June 25? We're here to give you the full rundown.

Stay with us every Monday and Friday as we tackle the most pressing issues pertaining to the 2009 NBA Draft, here on

Important dates

April 26, 11:59 p.m.: All non-senior college players and international prospects born between 1988 and 1990 must have submitted their names to Stu Jackson at the NBA league office in order to be eligible for the NBA Draft. This year, 74 college players and 29 international players have applied as early-entry candidates.

The international players not only hail from basketball hotbeds such as Spain, France and Serbia, but also from non-traditional countries like Kazakhstan, Estonia and Hungary, showing that the NBA dream is certainly not just an American concept these days.

On a more obscure part of the early entry list (which only NBA teams usually see) is a section for automatically eligible players, such as Brandon Jennings and Patrick Beverley. Their names were automatically added to the draft pool once they forfeited their college eligibility by signing professional contracts in Europe. Jennings plays in Rome, while Beverley, the former Arkansas star, competes in the slightly less exotic city of Dnipropetrovsk in the Ukraine.

In staunch contrast to years past, far more chatter in NBA circles revolved around who didn't enter, as opposed to who did. Seven or eight projected lottery picks (including Oklahoma's Willie Warren, North Carolina's Ed Davis, Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu, Kansas' Cole Aldrich, Lithuanian international Donatas Motiejunas and others) decided to pass on the opportunity to enter their names, thus severely depleting the talent-level and overall depth of this year's class.

May 1: Once the early entry list is distributed, NBA teams may begin scheduling workouts with eligible prospects (including NCAA seniors and 1987-born internationals). Over the past few years teams were forced to wait until after the NBA pre-draft camp to conduct these workouts, but this year the NBA decided to change that rule due to a significant change in the format of the camp (which we'll cover in depth later on).

But teams cannot have more than six players on the court at any given time, and players are not allowed to visit a team for more than 48 hours. And no player may visit more than twice. Due to an increasing emphasis on keeping budgets in check -- and in an effort to kill a flock of birds with one stone -- many NBA teams have decided to join forces and organize mass workouts, where a huge pool of players are brought in for a series of positional workouts and interviews over the course of two days, and most teams are represented and share the costs. Golden State will host a workout of that nature June 1-2, as will New Jersey on June 12-13.

NBA scouts and executives also are free to attend the various workout facilities scattered around the country, where prospects are preparing themselves for private workouts under the tutelage of trainers such as David Thorpe and Mike Moreau of IMG Academy, Joe Abunassar of Impact Basketball and Tim Grover and Mike Procopio of ATTACK Athletics.

May 19: The moment of truth for the most unfortunate souls in the NBA today -- the NBA Draft Lottery. All 14 teams that didn't make the Playoffs will get an opportunity to have their destinies altered by securing the top spot in the 2009 draft -- widely known as the "Blake Griffin Sweepstakes."

Mike Zarren of the Boston Celtics did an excellent job detailing exactly how the lottery works in this article.

Here are the odds for this year's lottery:

Sacramento 17-65 250
Washington 19-63 178
LA Clippers 19-63 177
Oklahoma City 23-59 119
Minnesota 24-58 76
Memphis 24-58 75
Golden State 29-53 43
New York 32-50 28
Toronto 33-49 17
Milwaukee 34-48 10
New Jersey 34-48 9
Charlotte 35-47 7
Indiana 36-46 6
Phoenix 46-36 5

Here's how the NBA decides tiebreakers.

May 27-31: The NBA Pre-Draft Combine will be conducted in Chicago, in a new, more economically friendly format designed to gather all of the major draft prospects under one roof for a series of drills, measurements, anthropometric testing, the combine and interviews. Invitations went out this past week, and all 30 NBA teams will be allowed to bring just seven front-office members due to space constraints. In contrast to years past, there will be no competitive action whatsoever.

One positive development is that since every draft prospect (save for a handful of European players still competing in their league's playoffs) will be on hand, every player will be measured, tested and weighed. Over the years we've managed to build up a fascinating collection of historical measurement data, but are missing a few players from each year that declined to play in the camp. That will no longer be the case.

June 6-8: The Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, will be conducted in front of numerous NBA general managers and representatives of all 30 teams. Forty-eight of the top international prospects in Europe will congregate in an attempt to up their draft stock (for this year or the future) and make a name for themselves amongst the dozens of top European clubs that traditionally scout the event as well. Plenty of first-round draft picks (including No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani as well as Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez and others) have come through this camp over the years, and it's truly evolved into a setting that international players have to attend if they want to play in the NBA.

June 15, 5 p.m. (ET): The final deadline for early entry candidates to remove their name from the draft. One strong first-round prospect already decided to do so yesterday. Kentucky's Patrick Patterson decided to give incoming coach John Calipari a chance to help him leave school as an NCAA champion and college graduate.

June 25, 7 p.m. (ET): The 2009 NBA Draft will be held at the Theatre of Madison Square Garden in New York (live on ESPN), and 15 or so of the top prospects will be invited along with their families to watch the proceedings in the "Green Room" in front of David Stern. We expect plenty of wheeling and dealing on draft night, as many teams will look to move up, down or out of the draft, and in turn try to help their bottom line or future outlook.

Jonathan Givony is President and Director of Scouting of Draft Express. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer.

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