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The NBA draft is an annual event in which the thirty teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can select players who wish to join the league. These players are usually amateur college basketball players, but in recent drafts a higher number of international and high school players have been drafted. However, starting in 2006, high school players were not eligible to enter the draft directly after graduating high school. The rules now state that high school players will gain eligibility for draft selection one year after their high school graduation and they must also be at least 19 years old as of the end of the calendar year of the draft. International players who have never played basketball for a United Statesmarker high school or college are also eligible if they are at least 19 years old. The Draft usually takes place at the end of June, during the NBA off-season. Since 2001, the Draft has been held in New York Citymarker.

NBA Draft Lottery

The NBA Draft Lottery is an annual event held by the NBA in which the teams, who had missed the playoffs in the previous season, participate in a lottery process to determine the draft order in the Draft. The lottery winner would get the first selection in the draft. In the current rules, 14 non-playoff teams participate in the Draft Lottery. The lottery is weighted so that the team with the worst record has the best chance of obtaining higher draft picks. The lottery process determines the first three picks of the draft. The rest of the first-round order of picks is in reverse order of the teams' win-loss record. The lottery does not determine the draft order in the second round or the subsequent round of the draft.

Draft selection process

All players must be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year of the draft, and a player who completed basketball eligibility at an American high school must also be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class. Restrictions exist on players signing with sports agents and on declaring for, then withdrawing, from drafts.

Globalization of the draft

The NBA draft has been dominated by collegiate players since the draft was put in place in 1950. In more recent years high school seniors have also had a large impact on the draft. These include players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Amar'e Stoudemire, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kwame Brown (the first high schooler ever taken number 1 overall). However, because of the new age requirement put in place in 2005, high school seniors are no longer eligible for the draft. During the same stretch that high school players were making a large impact on the draft, another group of players started to make their presence felt in the draft.

Selecting foreign players

Foreign players have made a large impact on how teams are now drafting. When the draft began, foreign players were not selected. As the years progressed, things began to change and a few international players were selected. The first international player, in the sense of being a national of a country other than the U.S., to be chosen first overall in the draft was Bahamianmarker Mychal Thompson in 1978. However, Thompson's selection was not a true harbinger of the game's globalization, as he had spent much of his childhood in Floridamarker, and had played college basketball at Minnesota. One of the first foreign players selected in the draft to play in the NBA was Manute Bol out of the Sudan in 1983 in the 5th round by the San Diego Clippers. Bol's selection was later deemed ineligible by the NBA. Two years later Bol was drafted again by the NBA this time out of Division II University of Bridgeportmarker in 1985 as the 31st pick overall in the second round. Although Bol did not have a stellar career, he is known for being one of the tallest players ever to play the game at 7 feet and 7 inches. He holds the record for being the tallest player ever to hit a 3 point field goal. The following two years saw two players born outside the U.S. selected first overall—Nigerianmarker Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 and Jamaicamarker-born American Patrick Ewing in 1985. However, like Thompson before them, both had played U.S. college basketball—Olajuwon at Houston and Ewing at Georgetown—and Ewing had also played high school basketball in the U.S.

'97 Draft

By the 1997 draft, the number of foreign players being drafted dramatically increased. The top pick in that draft, Tim Duncan, became the third international player picked number 1 overall—although his designation as "international" is a matter of semantics, as he is a native of the United States Virgin Islandsmarker and, like all USVI natives, is a U.S. citizen by birth. He also had played U.S. college basketball at Wake Forest. Including Duncan, 12 international players were selected in the two rounds of the draft—although half of them, including Duncan and the next two such players picked, had played college basketball. The 1998 draft saw another international player picked first overall, Nigerianmarker Michael Olowokandi, but like Duncan he had played college basketball, in his case at Pacificmarker. In 2001 the highest drafted international player, Pau Gasol, was selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks. That would all change the following season when Yao Ming became the first international player without U.S. college experience to be selected number 1 overall. Not only was the first overall pick an international player, but five more picks in the first round alone were also from overseas. In total, the 2002 draft produced 17 international players, with only three of them (all second-round picks) having U.S. college experience.

International players selected number 1 overall

As noted earlier, four international players had gone first overall before 2002, although all had played college basketball in the U.S., and one of them was in fact a U.S. citizen by birth. It was not until 2002 that an international player without college experience went first overall—Yao Ming. His selection was not only a watershed moment for the NBA, it also had a large impact in Yao's homeland of China. Hannah Beech (2003) writes "Yao has single-handedly transformed his countrymen from nameless, faceless millions into mighty men who can jam with the very best." Yao has helped the NBA grow into a worldwide product. Beech (2003) goes on to write "Ratings for NBA games broadcast on Chinese TV have never been higher than this year as the nation keeps track of its new favorite team, Yao's Houston Rockets." For his career Yao is averaging a solid 19.0 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, 1.89 blocks per game, and is shooting 82.6 percent from the free throw line.

2001 Draft

From the 2001 draft to the 2006 draft there were a total of 87 international players selected. This trend shows how NBA teams are expanding the way they are selecting players in the draft. Players like Yao Ming, Leandro Barbosa, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Hedo Turkoglu, Nenê and Pau Gasol are changing the landscape of the NBA to include a wide array of players from all over the globe.

2005 and 2006 Drafts

The 2005 and 2006 drafts both saw international players picked first overall. In 2005, the Milwaukee Bucks picked Andrew Bogut, from Australia by way of Utah, number 1. The next year, the Toronto Raptors made Andrea Bargnani the second foreign player without U.S. college experience to be selected number 1 overall.

Other notable past NBA drafts

Some of the most noted NBA draft years are 1984, 1996, and 2003. Each of those is often referred to as one of, if not the, best NBA Draft ever, though the 2003 Draft was too recent to accurately compare. The 2000 NBA Draft has been regarded as the worst in history, with Sports Illustrated calling its first round "a horrible group of players." The 1986 Draft was notable for the number of solid and even outstanding players selected in later rounds, partly because of drug problems that claimed the life of second overall pick Len Bias and affected the careers of several other first-round picks.

See also



Notes and references

  1. Beech, H. (2003, APRIL 28). Yao Ming China's Incredible Hulk of the hardcourt becomes an NBA sensation. Time.com. Retrieved February 25th, 2008, from http://www.time.com/time/asia/2003/heroes/yao_ming.html


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