With the new NBA champions crowned merely a week earlier, the NBA Draft quickly comes around to bring all 30 teams in the league hope for the future. 

However, the story of the NBA Draft each season begins around a month earlier than the NBA Draft Day itself, thanks to how the NBA Draft Lottery comes into play. 

On this page, you’ll uncover everything that you need to know about the NBA Draft, from player eligibility to the NBA Draft order and how it’s determined.

What is the NBA Draft? 

The NBA Draft is an annual event that allows teams to take turns selecting the top prospects from North American colleges as well as overseas professionals to gain the exclusive rights to signing them to NBA contracts. 

Beginning in 1947, the process is in place to enable the teams performing the worst in the league to select who are perceived to be the most talented up-and-coming players to increase their hopes of becoming better down the line.

How Does the NBA Draft Work?

Initially, the NBA Draft works by giving each team a single pick in both of its two rounds based on the results of the NBA Draft Lottery and the final regular season standings. 

A typical NBA Draft will consist of 60 overall picks, but teams have been known to have picks taken away from them for breaching the rules, such as by tampering in the free agency.

NBA Draft guide

Once the stage is set, the team with the first overall pick will go on the clock, being given five minutes to make a decision before the next team gets to pick. In the second round, teams get two minutes on the clock. 

Since 2005, to be eligible for the NBA Draft, players needed to be 19-years-old, making all US-based players one year removed from high school basketball. 

That one year out of high school can be a quick stint in college, a year overseas, or a year in the G League Ignite to remain eligible for NBA selection. However, changes to the NBA-NBPA CBA may change the bar back to 18-years-old.

How is the NBA Draft Order Determined?

The top 14 picks of the first round of the NBA Draft are determined by the NBA Draft Lottery. The remaining 16 picks in the first round are determined by the regular season records from the last campaign. 

In the second round, picks 31 to 60, all teams are ordered by their regular season records from the season prior. 

As the NBA Draft is determined by regular season records, the pick belonging to the NBA Championship winner won’t necessarily be the final pick of each round. 

As an example from the 2022/23 postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks opened the betting as the +260 favourites in the NBA odds with the best win percentage – at the time of writing – of .720. 

However, if the Denver Nuggets win the Larry O’Brien Trophy from their .680 win percentage and +700 odds, based on the current standings, they’ll also get the 28th pick in the first round. 

What is the NBA Draft Lottery, and How Does it Work?

The NBA Draft Lottery is the process by which the order of the first 14 picks in the NBA Draft is determined. It’s deployed in an attempt to remove some of the weight given to teams that play poorly to get better draft picks.

Making the process more complex than your standard lotto game, the NBA Draft Lottery features 14 numbered balls that bounce around in a spinning cage, at which point, four balls are drawn to generate a code. 

That code is one of 1,001 possible combinations of the 14 numbers, which then get assigned to each of the 14 teams depending on their final placing and the pre-determined odds assigned to that placing in the regular season – while one number combination is discarded, leaving 1,000 to be split between the teams.

What are the Odds for a Team to Get the No. 1 Pick in the NBA Draft Lottery?

As of 2021, the odds for a team to land the No.1 overall pick through the NBA Draft Lottery are as follows. Team 1 represents the pick for the team from the last regular season with the worst record of the 14 that missed the playoffs: 

Team 1, Team 2, Team 3: > 14%
Team 4: > 12.5%
Team 5: > 10.5%
Team 6: > 9%
Team 7: > 7.5%
Team 8, Team 9, Team 10: > 4.5%
Team 11: > 1.8%
Team 12: > 1.7%
Team 13: > 1.0%
Team 14: > 0.5%

When and Where is the NBA Draft 2023?

The NBA Draft 2023 takes place on June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It is possible to get NBA Draft tickets to go see the event in person. 

On May 16, 2023, the all-important NBA Draft Lottery will take place behind closed doors, but there will be a televised event to unveil the draft order.

Can Teams Move in the NBA Draft Order? 

NBA teams can, and often do, move around in the NBA Draft order. Picks hold a lot of weight in the NBA trading economy as there are only two rounds in each draft, and many teams add conditions to traded picks. 

In the 2023 first round of the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics would have kept their pick if it ended up being pick one to 12. As they’ll be going to the playoffs, their first-round pick will be going to the Indiana Pacers.

What is the NBA Draft Combine, and Why Does it Matter?

The NBA Draft Combine pits college basketball prospects against each other in five-on-five drills and specified physical tests to help coaches and scouts better assess their talents. 

It’s a multi-day, invite-only event that takes place in May. It also includes medical tests and time for interviews to be performed by teams with prospects that they may be targeting in the upcoming NBA Draft. 

What is an NBA Draft Big Board?

An NBA Draft big board is a tool used by outlets to relay who they think are the best prospects in the form of NBA Draft rankings. 

When deliberating which players they should pick, it’s not uncommon to see teams utilize their own big boards, but with only a couple of rounds to work through, they’re not as sprawling as seen in other major leagues.

What is an NBA Mock Draft?

An NBA mock draft is a tool used by pundits, fans, and even teams to determine which teams will take which players off of the board to attempt to see which prospects will be left as the draft progresses.

Before the NBA Draft Lottery, NBA mock drafts will be based on current standings, but afterwards, they can attempt to be more accurate by plotting picks based on team needs for the exact spot.

Is the First Overall Pick in the NBA Draft Always a Success?

Generally speaking, the first overall pick in the NBA Draft tends to be a success. From 2000 to 2020, 15 of the 21 first overall picks have been selected for an All-Star Game or the All-NBA Team, with one already inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

That offers an All-Star hit rate of 71.4 percent when holding the first overall pick in the draft since the turn of the millennium.

While this coveted spot has gone to the likes of LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal, there’s still a chance of pulling an NBA Draft bust, like LaRue Martin, Anthony Bennett (the first Canadian to be taken No. 1 in the NBA Draft), or Kwame Brown.

Has a Rookie Ever Won the NBA MVP Award?

A rookie has won the NBA MVP Award on two occasions, with those two being Wes Unsled in 1969 and Wilt Chamberlain in 1960. 

So, it’s very rare for someone to come out of the NBA Draft and be named the league’s MVP.

More commonly, long-established stars battle for the crown, just as Nikola Jokić (+100), Joel Embiid (+110), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+450) are in the basketball betting this season. 

Why is Yao Ming an Important Part of NBA Draft History?

Yao Ming is an important part of NBA Draft history because he was the first wholly foreign player – one without US school basketball experience – to be taken first overall, and now he’s the tallest player in the Hall of Fame. 

He has only been followed by Andrea Bargnani in 2006 since the Chinaman’s 2002 top selection as players picked No. 1 without competitive experience in the US.

NBA Draft explained - Yao Ming

In the NBA Draft 2023, the stage looks to be set for Frenchman Victor Wembanyama to follow in the footsteps of Ming and Bargnani, and the prospect happens to be just an inch shorter than Ming. 

Who are the Top Prospects of the NBA Draft 2023?

Outright, if he stays fit, Victor Wembanyama is the top prospect of the NBA Draft 2023 and is touted as having a ceiling high enough to land him in the Hall of Fame eventually. 

With the French talent on top, here’s a look at who most consider to be the top prospects for the NBA Draft 2023:

  • Victor Wembanyama
  • Scoot Henderson
  • Jarace Walker
  • Brandon Miller
  • Amen Thompson
  • Cam Whitmore

Does the NBA Draft Have a Fashion Show?

Officially, the NBA Draft doesn’t have a fashion show. However, as it’s a red-carpet event and prospects in attendance are about to become millionaires, most dress up in flashy suits to command the attention of outlets like GQ each year. 

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of the ins and outs of the NBA Draft, you can watch the action unfold at one of the most significant events on the league’s calendar.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to AP Photo*


FIRST PUBLISHED: 29th March 2023

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.