With the NBA Finals Wrapped Up, League Now Shifts Focus to Unconventional Draft Process

by Sam Perley

Nearly 12 months removed from Opening Night last October, the 2019-20 NBA campaign has finally ended with the Los Angeles Lakers being crowned champions, and now, the next major event on the league’s calendar is the annual draft scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 18.

Normally, the pre-draft process starts really picking up steam in the spring when the regular season ends. Due to obvious circumstances, the draft had to be delayed for five months with the coronavirus pandemic wiping out common evaluating resources like the NCAA Tournament, NBA Combine and in-person workouts. Most organizations scout year-round though, sometimes traveling to as many collegiate and international competitions as schedules permit.

All summer long, teams were only allowed to interview and evaluate prospects remotely, whereas normally, they’d be conducting live workouts and sit-down meetings in the host city. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday, Oct. 12 that organizations will now be granted a maximum of 10 total in-person visits with prospects for up to four and a half hours each from Oct. 16 to Nov. 16, with ongoing Zoom calls still permitted as well.

Additionally, teams can send three people (general manager, owner, head coach, etc.) plus a doctor to meet and evaluate a workout with the player, who is also allotted a three-person party as well (eight people at the most). Organizations can make a maximum of two visits per prospect and standard COVID-19 protocols will be mandatory for all interactions.

Meeting in person is certainly better than nothing at all, although it’ll be interesting to see how teams choose to use their 10 visits. Last year, the Hornets worked out and met with over 100 players in Charlotte and likely interacted with more at the NBA Combine. Will organizations utilize their visits more on players projected around their better picks or choose to spread them out? And might they double up on certain prospects they’ve already spoken with?

Charlotte currently holds the third, 32nd (from Cleveland) and 56th (from Boston) picks in the 2020 Draft, while its own second-rounder (38th) is going to New York as part of the Willy Hernangómez trade in 2018. Notable players taken at the 32nd spot include Jevon Carter (2018), Ivica Zubac (2016), Montrezl Harrell (2015) and Tomáš Satoranský (2012), while Ramon Sessions (2007), Amir Johnson (2005) and Luis Scola (2002) were snagged with the fifth-to-last selection.

This year’s draft process certainly isn’t being conducted under ideal circumstances, but in the end, every team is in the exact same boat. The ones who utilize their resources and expertise the most effectively for their respective organizations will be the ones who come out as long-term winners on Nov. 18.

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