With the NBA Finals all wrapped up, and everyone home from the bubble, it's officially time to enter offseason mode. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the normal timeline has been thrown off, and many events have been modified to meet social distancing requirements, while others such as Las Vegas Summer League have been canceled outright.
Everything that's still going on will proceed in the usual order, with the draft followed by free agency a few weeks later, and then training camps starting at a date still to be determined. First up, then, is the 2020 NBA Draft, which will set the tone for everything to come.
Here's everything you need to know about the big night:
When is the 2020 NBA Draft?
This year, the draft will take place on Nov. 18, which is the latest in the calendar a draft has ever been held. In fact, to find the last time the draft hasn't been held in June, you'd have to go all the way back to 1975, when it happened in late May. A time for the event has not yet been released.
Is the format any different this year?
Yes and no. Instead of being a big production at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with players, fans and media in attendance, and the draftees walking up on stage to shake Adam Silver's hand, the event will instead be held virtually. Specific details still haven't been released by the league, but it will likely follow a similar format to the 2020 WNBA Draft and the 2020 Draft Lottery, with players, coaches and the commissioner appearing via video conferencing.
Outside of those logistical changes, however, things will remain the same. There will be two rounds with 30 picks each. The first 14 picks of the draft are reserved for the teams that did not make the playoffs last season. This is deemed the lottery, as the order was determined by the Draft Lottery back in August. For the remainder of the first round, the order is based on teams' records last regular season, with a worst to best pattern.
There is no lottery process for the second round, and the order is strictly based on last season's standings, again following a worst to best format.
Who has the No. 1 pick?
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the top pick by virtue of winning the 2020 Draft Lottery back in August. This is the second time in franchise history that the Wolves have had the No. 1 overall pick. The other was in 2015 when they selected two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. The complete order of picks for both rounds can be found here.
Who are the top prospects?
Unlike many years, there is no consensus No. 1 pick heading into the draft. In his latest mock draft, CBS Sports' Kyle Boone has Anthony Edwards going No. 1 overall, but there are a number of players in the mix, and there's no telling how things might play out. Especially considering the Timberwolves may try to trade the top pick.
Regardless of how things go, or who ends up with the first pick, here are three names to keep an eye on:
- LaMelo Ball -- G, Australia
- Anthony Edwards -- G, Georgia
- James Wiseman -- C, Memphis
Those three seem to have separated themselves a bit from the rest of the field, but again, this figures to be one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory.
Who is eligible?
High school players have not been eligible since the league's implementation of the so-called "one and done" rule in 2005. Now, all players must be at least 19 years old by the end of the calendar year of the draft, and be one year removed from their high school graduating class.
This does not mean that American players have to go to college, however, as we've seen top prospects -- including Lamelo Ball this year -- go overseas to play professionally before declaring for the draft. As for international players, they are automatically eligible if they've played for a professional team outside the NBA, or if they are 22 years old.
It's also possible to declare as an "early entrant." These are players who meet the age minimum but don't satisfy any of the automatic eligibility markers. They have to announce their intention to enter the draft at least 60 days ahead of time, at which point they are allowed to attend workouts and receive information and feedback about their prospects. Because they are not automatically eligible, these "early entrants" can decide to withdraw from the draft process any time before the final declaration date, which is 10 days after the Draft Combine ends.