Does Everyone In The NBA Draft Get Picked?

does everyone in the nba draft get picked (cover image)

Every year, the NBA Draft allows teams to pick some of the best players from all around the world and colleges that have yet to appear in the NBA. It can lead to a franchise turning around for the better or their pick could result in nothing positive. A lot of great players enter the draft, but does everyone in the NBA Draft get picked?

Does Everyone In The NBA Draft Get Picked?

Sadly for them, everyone in the NBA Draft does not get picked. Yet the same exists in every sport. There is a limitation on how many prospects teams can take. Of course, teams have tried to bypass the system by getting as many picks as possible. However, this still does not mean everyone will be picked.

There are a ton of players that come out for the draft every year from all over the world. With so many coming out and only a certain number of spots available, there is simply no way everyone could be taken.

How Many People Declare Every Year?

Some years are different than others, but you could see quite a lot on average. Over the last 10 years an average of 142 people have declared for the draft each year. We’ve seen an upswing of the averages over the last five years.

2016 – 162 people declared for the NBA Draft

2017 – 182 people declared for the NBA Draft

2018 – 236 people declared for the NBA Draft

2019 – 233 people declared for the NBA Draft

2020 – 205 people declared for the NBA Draft

However, some people might see the landscape of the field and undeclare or choose not to come out. Usually, the top players, such as the infamous “one and done” types, are the first to declare.

While undeclaring or simply not declaring for the draft happens off and on for underclassmen in college, it is more common for those playing overseas. Unlike collegiate players, these overseas athletes are already playing professionally and earning a salary for their role.

Meaning if they feel they won’t go high in the draft or will go completely undrafted, they might not come out. There are specific deadlines for both declaring and withdrawing that players must follow too. Of course, only a limited amount of picks are available, so it makes sense to play this smart.

How Many Picks Are In Each Round Of The NBA Draft?

There are 30 picks in each round of the NBA Draft. Every team is given at least two picks to choose players in the current NBA draft format. This is split between a fixed first and second-round system. Teams are able to trade picks, as long as they follow the NBA rules in order to do so. There are currently 30 NBA teams with two picks each, meaning a grand total of 60 picks will be made.

However, this was not always the case. The current draft rules have been in place since 1989 but before this, there were several different formats regarding the number of picks a team had to use. This was likely due to the need for players at the time versus today when there are plenty.

Going back to the start of the NBA Draft, the NBA allowed teams to draft until there were no longer any prospects left. In fact, from 1960 to 1969 there were up to 21 rounds. By 1974, this changed to just 10 with an exception for 8 in 1977.

Then in 1985, the NBA matched the current NFL draft round system of 7 rounds. Finally, from 1989 to this very day, the NBA Draft has only had two rounds.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Picked?

We referenced above that some players will choose to go back to school or to their pro team and withdraw from the NBA Draft. This does happen more than you might think, but some players will choose to come out for the draft anyway. If a player goes undrafted, they’re able to sign with any team they want (or that has an interest).

The only way for this to happen is if a person comes out for the draft that year. The NBA will not allow a player from a random league or college to bypass the draft for free agency. Therefore, you must come out and one draft must pass without the player being taken for them to be eligible for free agency.

If the player undeclares before the draft takes place, they have to come out for the following year’s draft, declaring again. Basically, as long as you come out for one draft and do not get drafted, you’ll be able to enter free agency.

European players go out for the draft quite often and many do not get picked for some reason or another. However, the hope is that their impressive play overseas will sway a team enough to take a shot on them. Yet some collegiate players will also go overseas in an effort to do the same if they are not picked up off the free agency wire.

They could go back to school but the NCAA’s rules regarding getting an agent can result in a player being unable to return to school if they go undrafted. If you do not get an agent, you’re more than able to go back to college for another season if you have the eligibility left to do so.

The NBA Now Has Options:

Today, the NBA’s G-League is a perfect place for everyone not picked in the NBA draft. It is essentially like the minor leagues for the NBA. Several teams own one of these teams or have an affiliation with them in some way.

That allows them to have first-rights to sign an impressive player to something like a two-way contract, which allows them a chance to play at the next level. The D-League was also in place before this and essentially did the same things.

Teams have also had a connection with teams overseas over the years too. Ultimately, developing talent to play in the NBA is a much bigger thing than you might have realized.

What Have We Learned Today?

The NBA Draft has a very long history that connects the entire history of the league. The Two-Round system is relatively new in this history but happens to be the longest draft concept the league has stuck to.

This system has clearly worked quite well for years and it does not over stack teams, leading to potential salary issues. Therefore, we’re all for the NBA keeping the two-round system in place for years to come.

What Did We Learn About How Many People Get Drafted Into The NBA Each Year?

Teams can trade around to have many picks in these rounds, but at the end of the day, only 60 players will be picked no matter what. There are still quite a lot of players that go out for the draft but with only 60 slots available, the majority that enter into the NBA Draft don’t get picked.

With the many options available to players today…you don’t have to be as sure as you once needed to be about coming out for the draft. With tons of teams to play for overseas, a person can become a star and be handsomely rewarded for it outside the United States.

A lot has changed over the years in the NBA but keep one thing in mind. Basketball players have options like never before. If your favorite player does not get drafted nor picked up from free agency, they’ll likely land on their feet elsewhere.

Sometimes, playing well elsewhere leads to the NBA calling to get you back. Ask people like Anthony Parker, for example.


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