The NBA Draft is a time of excitement and celebration for players and fans alike. The players will get a chance to strut their stuff on the court, and fans will get the chance to brag about who they bought their tickets for. But, how do these league executives feel about stripping this joy away from the players, and how do they justify their actions?
A recent Sports Illustrated article by Jason Laws centered on the NBA’s “draft-stealing” rules, which ostensibly allows the NBA to strip assets away from franchises who have mistreated their draft picks. The rules are so absurd that they even allow the NBA to strip draft picks away from teams who have made the playoffs, despite the fact that all teams are still currently in the playoffs. So, are the NBA’s draft-stealing rules simply stupid, or are they actually setting teams up for failure?
Most of you are probably aware of the “win-at-all-costs” mentality that has taken hold in the NBA, which has led to the rule of “tanking” during the last decade. This is the idea that an NBA team will purposely lose games in order to build its draft pick, which is what the Memphis Grizzlies did this past season.
The loss of NBA draft choices is a frequent penalty for clubs that break the rules while signing free agents. Due to tampering with then-Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovi during the 2023 free agency period, the Milwaukee Bucks will not have a second-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls may both face similar penalties for signing Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball in sign-and-trade deals.
However, some NBA officials believe that rather than reducing the amount of options, the league should give those selections to other clubs. On draft night next summer, one less player will hear his name called. Is this as serious a problem as some CEOs would have us believe?
NBA draft choices that have been forfeited date back many years.
In 1975, a club was the first to lose an NBA draft choice. After unlawfully signing ABA free agent George McGinnis, then-commissioner Larry O’Brien took away the New York Knicks’ 1976 first-round selection.
McGinnis’ draft rights were at stake. The former Indiana University standout was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as a second-round selection in the 1973 NBA Draft. The Knicks rushed in to grab the ABA’s co-MVP when his contract with the Indiana Pacers ended in 1975. However, O’Brien decided that McGinnis’ rights belonged to the 76ers.
In the ABA era, situations like these were not uncommon. NBA clubs could not select players before their final year of college until 1971. McGinnis was already an ABA All-Star when Philadelphia chose him. When the Atlanta Hawks signed Julius Erving in 1972, they used a similar strategy, despite the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks selected the Virginia Squires star 12th overall.
The Hawks, on the other hand, were compelled to hand up selections to the Bucks in that instance.
In the year 2000, the most severe penalty regarding draft choices was imposed. To stay under the salary limit, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed free agent Joe Smith to a one-year deal. To get around the cap, they also signed him to a secret contract for considerably more money. The Timberwolves were given five first-round selections by NBA commissioner David Stern (they did get their 2005 pick back).
Some people want forfeited draft choices to go to other clubs so that they may assist players.
Mark Tatum, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, is the face of the draft’s second round. That’s because commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t think it’s essential enough to stay. | Getty Images/Sarah Stier
Some executives questioned the fairness of removing NBA draft choices during the NBA Summer League, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Players, they think, are the ultimate victims of such an activity.
“Why are we penalizing athletes by limiting the amount of NBA draft choices available? Players put in a lot of effort throughout their careers to reach to the point where they can hear their names called during the draft. It’s absolutely unjust to them that fewer people be given that distinction due of backroom antics beyond their control.”
Another member of the front office had an idea on what to do with the selections. He proposed that teams who were division champions, won a possible in-season tournament, or represented the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion be selected at the conclusion of the draft.
“Can you imagine Carmelo Anthony going up to the stage with the 60th selection and announcing that the Portland Trail Blazers had chosen someone? That would have been a fantastic occasion at Barclays Center, highlighting his accomplishments and connecting them to the beginning of a new player’s NBA career, who might perhaps follow in his footsteps.”
It sounds like something out of a fairy tale. This is due to the fact that it is one.
Being selected in the NBA draft’s second round isn’t ideal for athletes.
Thousands of athletes have gone through the NBA draft process throughout the years. But hold on a second. How could the total be so high with just two rounds and 60 picks?
This is due to the fact that the two-round NBA draft did not commence until 1989. In 1988, there were three rounds, down from seven in 1987. In the early years of the draft, the round count would often reach the high teens, and even more than 20.
It was a method for rivals to limit their opponents’ choices. A rival executive might pick a player if a GM knew a club was interested in him. They were not interested in him. They just did not want their opponents to be able to sign him.
Second-round selections are thrown about like play money in today’s world. In the 2023 NBA Draft, three second-round picks moved through four clubs. Only five teams were able to make their selections.
Any club may sign an undrafted athlete. Only one second-round selection is available. Reducing a player’s bargaining power isn’t nearly as beneficial as some execs believe. Worse, they’re well aware of it.
NBA.com provided the draft history.
RELATED: Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant’s 1996 NBA Draft Class Is Without a Doubt the Best in League History: ‘Ask Anyone Who Knows Anything About Basketball.’