The National Basketball Association (NBA) draft has its fair share of randomness that occurs every year.
No matter how much film or information organizations may have on a player, there is still a lot of luck involved when it comes to making the right selection. Now, given the current concerns of the coronavirus, teams will go into the draft with significantly less information on players than they would normally have. This will most likely lead to an increase in players that end up becoming classified as “busts” or “steals.” Also, from the player’s perspective, some of them may not be able to receive the evaluations needed to make a wise decision as to whether they should enter the draft of return to school for another year.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, the NBA Draft Combine, and individual team workouts are usually key moments for players to boost their draft stock. The NCAA tournament has already been cancelled. If the combine and team workouts are unable to occur, teams will go into the draft with perhaps the least amount of information on prospects in a long time, if not ever.
The NCAA tournament has provided valuable game film on the biggest stage of college basketball throughout the years. This has led to several players having their draft stock rise based on their performances, such as Carsen Edwards, Brandon Clarke, and RJ Hunter. Clarke and Hunter would end up being first round picks.
However, based on these players, it is clear that the NCAA tournament is no guarantee as to whether or not players will find success in the NBA. Hunter is already out of the league, and Edwards has yet to prove himself, even though he was just drafted in 2019. Clarke, on the other hand, has been an exceptional role player for the Memphis Grizzlies so far in his young career.
There have also been players that did not even play in the NCAA tournament that have gone on to have success in the NBA, such as Ben Simmons. The tournament may be a key step in the evaluation process, but it is far from the only thing that scouts use.
The next stage in the NBA draft process is the NBA combine. This is where several prospects get an opportunity to shine in front of NBA scouts. They are able to participate in various drills, scrimmages, measurements, and interviews with organizations. Kawhi Leonard boosted his draft stock with his hand size and wingspan measurements; Pascal Siakam, who was not even on the radar for most teams out of New Mexico State, showed his potential in the scrimmages; and Mo Bamba set a record for the longest wingspan. Leonard and Siakam would go on to develop into NBA All-Stars. Bamba has only shown flashes of what he could be with a few more years of development, such as his 15-point, 10 rebound, and 4-block performance in 17 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks on February 26, but there is still time for him to improve as he is only in the second year of his career.
The combine is much more of an indicator of if players are going to find success than the NCAA tournament, but there are still those that manage to impress at the combine and have very forgettable NBA careers, such as Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn saw his stock rise from a high second round pick to a mid-first-rounder. He was drafted 17th overall, but he only averaged three points in his career.
Individual team workouts are one of the last steps in player evaluation. This is where teams can focus on a few players and really get to know them at their own facilities before they commit to spending a draft pick on them.
While the NBA draft has always, and will always, had a sense of randomness as players vastly outperform or underperform their expectations based on where they were drafted, this randomness will increase dramatically if the evaluation process is cancelled due to COVID-19. With that being said, it has been reported recently by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that many NBA teams are trying to encourage the league office to push back the date of the draft in order to resolve this issue. However, I think the increase in the randomness of the draft just makes it all the more exciting as a fan.
Chase Ward is a senior at Shawnee State University (SSU) majoring in sport management. He is a graduate of Waverly High School, and he is currently serving as an assistant coach for the SSU men’s and women’s tennis programs