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Do Players Know Who Will Draft Them in the NBA?

No, players do not typically know which team will select them in the NBA Draft. There is one minor exception, the team with the number one overall draft pick will often reach out and let the player know that they are expecting to select them before the event begins. However, every other pick is really up in the air, depending on how the picks fall in front of them. No team has the capabilities of promising to draft a player when they don’t know who will be taken ahead of them.

There are a lot more steps involved in this drafting process that we will be diving into here throughout the article. As teams could provide hints at who they want to draft with extra workouts and interviews

Pro Days and Workouts

The pro days and other workouts for upcoming NBA players don’t normally begin until after March Madness comes to an end. Players with their names in the draft pool will usually speak to a number of interested teams in private workouts during the two-month period before the draft actually starts. For example, number one overall pick DeAndre Ayton refused to work out with any other team besides the Phoenix Suns. That was mostly because he knew that they held the number one overall pick and that they were too interested in him for them to pass up. In his case, he was fairly confident that Phoenix would select him because he didn’t give anybody else a glimmer of a chance. For other players that don’t have number one overall pick leverage, they have to visit whatever team comes calling and display their abilities. Pro days could also show a wide variety of scouts your talents and get them interested. If you are invited back more than once to work out with a team, chances are that they seem interested. Although, that doesn’t at all mean that you will be drafted by them. The players are aware that nothing is final during these workouts.

The Lottery

We briefly touched on draft position earlier but now we will take a further look into it. Teams will not have any information on where they will be drafting from until the NBA lottery is underway. Every team that misses the playoffs at the end of the regular season will have their name included in a jar. One by one, starting from the end of the lottery and working their way up until the number one overall selection, teams will hear their names get called. Wherever they are called is their draft position. There is no way to change it or get a redraw. The only way to go up the boards is if they give up assets in a trade with another team. So, assume a team meets with a player illegally before the season is over. Even if they predict to have the worst record in the league and intend to draft him with the number one overall pick, there is a good chance that they won’t be selecting number one. The lottery is completely random and while the player could take their word for it, he can’t be certain to be selected first if the team to speak to him isn’t in the top spot. It may seem like a wild scenario, but the lottery likely changes where a lot of players are going. In addition, we also have to look at team needs as well. If a center is projected to go number one overall, but a team needs a point guard, the center likely won’t be taken number one because they aren’t needed at their position. The lottery inserts an aspect of randomness into the draft and the futures of young men chasing their dreams.

Time Limits and Trades

One underrated aspect of the NBA Draft is the fact that there is a time limit for every single pick that comes up. This is usually the most stressful time for all players that are waiting to hear their names called because anticipation is killing them. You never know if a trade is going to go down or the team will just go ahead and select the best player available instead of a positional need. If a player gets guaranteed by a team that they will trade up and grab him with a certain pick in the draft, the player can be thinking that he knows where he is going, but a phone call doesn’t lock anything in. The team will have to find a way to manufacture a trade in a certain amount of time. This opens the door to so many different things. Say two teams don’t agree on a deal or the team they are calling wants to draft a specific player instead. With a time limit in place, these two sides could benefit from ignoring the trade package and  getting on with the draft. The players can’t assume that everything will work according to plan. The time limits on picks definitely impacts some of the decisions that are made throughout the night, especially when teams are trying to figure out who to draft when they really like multiple players. The bottom line here is that players never know who will select them. There is practically always going to be doubt when they hit draft night, but what remains is 60 people who will at the very minimum have an opportunity to play basketball at the highest level.