NBA Draft Explained: 7 Important Questions Answered

The NBA Draft is a life changing opportunity for new players to break into the big leagues. Consequently it attracts a large amount of media attention. The results of the selection process always have wide reaching implications for both players and NBA franchises. The process can be a little complicated but we’ll explain everything you need to know below.

What is the NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft is an annual event during which teams are able to obtain the rights to new players. NBA franchises take it in turns to pick new players for their teams. The draft began in 1947 but underwent an overhaul in the late 1980s to make it more fair. The event is usually scheduled to take place towards the end of June.

How Do NBA Drafts Work?

The NBA Draft is made up of two rounds.  In each round, the teams collectively are able to pick 30 players which means they can select up to 60 during the whole drafting process.  In each round, each team gets one pick although because they can trade picks with each other, for money or other picks, they can sometimes obtain more than 1 new player in a round.

The drafting process is designed to help poorly performing teams to improve their squads while still allowing teams who’ve had a good season to pick new players as well.  In the NBA Draft the first 14 teams to pick are those that didn’t qualify for the playoffs in the most recent season. This is because there are 30 teams in the NBA and only 16 can qualify for the playoffs; so the 14 teams who didn’t qualify get the first picks in the next draft.

The 14 teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs are entered into a lottery system to decide the NBA Draft order in which they get to pick their new players.  The NBA Draft lottery occurs each year in May.  Winning the lottery is a big deal because it means that a team has the first choice from the new generation of players. This can make a huge difference to the team’s prospects for the upcoming season and helps to launch the careers of the younger generation of future superstars.

The lottery is conducted using numbered ping pong balls which are randomly selected by a lottery machine; much like the state lottery that you’ve no doubt seen on TV.  The lottery process was designed to stop teams from deliberately losing games to get the first pick in the NBA Draft. The team that wins the lottery gets the first pick. The lottery is also used to decide the order of the remaining 13 picks for teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

The teams that did qualify for the playoffs are given the next 16 picks, from numbers 15 to 30.  The teams pick their new players in reverse order to their places in the regular season standings.  This means that the winning team is the last to pick in the first round and therefore gets the 30th pick.  The second best team gets the 29th pick and the third best team gets the 28th pick and so on.

In the second round, picks 31 to 60 are decided by the reverse order of the overall record of the teams in the most recent season. This means that the best team gets the last pick, number 60, and the worst performing team gets the first pick, number 31.

Once a player has been picked they can then be traded with other teams or kept on the new squad. This makes the draft an extremely important moment on the NBA calendar.  For players who make the grade and are selected for a top NBA team they are instantly thrust into the world’s top basketball league and can look forward to an opportunity to have a fantastic career in the sport.

When Is The NBA Draft?

The 2023 NBA Draft date and time are scheduled for June 22rd at 8p Eastern Standard Time. The 2023 NBA Draft will take place after the NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals are complete. ESPN audiences are expected to exceed 2 million viewers!

Where Is The 2023 NBA Draft Held?

The NBA Draft is traditionally held in the prestigious Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY since 2013.  The draft was held virtually in 2020 due to the world wide pandemic but in 2021 it was once again held in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Tickets to access this annual event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn are highly prized by sports fans and players and each year millions are on the edge of their seats to see the results of the draft picks.

How Much Are NBA Draft Tickets?

Ticket prices for the NBA Draft vary from year to year. They average around $100. Of course, the price will vary according to the ticket dealer that you buy from but considering the prominence of the NBA Draft prices are excellent value for the money!  To give you an idea of how tickets have been priced over the last 5 seasons you can refer to the table below.  

Remember, that in the 2019-2020 season the draft event was held virtually so the ticket price is not included in the following comparisons.

SeasonThe Approximate Average Ticket Price
2020-2021$50
2018-2019$100
2017-2018$75
2016-2017$75

Who Are The Top Prospects For The 2023 NBA Draft?

Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson are the top prospects that headline the 2023 NBA Draft. The early part of the year, particularly January, February and March, is crucial for NBA prospects who seek to up their game to get the attention of teams before the draft.  It’s during this period that scouts are on the lookout and the more high profile players put everything they have into their games.  Each year the top prospects are carefully analyzed by scouts and fans in order to get an idea of how they can benefit the teams that may select them on draft night.  

Who Went Number 1 In The NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft’s first pick refers to the player that is snatched up by a team in the opening of the process. The first pick in the NBA draft is decided by the lottery which means that it is often awarded to the team which had a losing season in the previous year.  

The first pick always attracts huge amounts of media attention and is often the beginning of a wonderful career for the lucky player who finds themselves in the limelight!  Some of the greatest legends of basketball started their careers as first picks, including LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal, which just goes to show how important it can be for teams who win the lottery.  See the list below for the Number 1 picks in the NBA Draft: 

1947 – Clifton McNeely (Pittsburgh Iron Men)

1948 – Andy Tonkovich (Providence Steam Rollers)

1949 – Howie Shannon (Providence Steam Rollers)

1950 – Chuck Share (Boston Celtics) 

1951 – Gene Melchiorre (Baltimore Hawks)

1952 – Mark Workman (Milwuakee Hawks)

1953 – Ray Felix (Baltimore Bullets)

1954 – Frank Selvy (Baltimore Bullets)

1955 – Dick Ricketts (St. Louis Hawks)

1956 – Si Green (Rochester Royals)

1957 – Hot Rod Hundley (Cincinnati Royals)

1958 – Elgin Baylor ( Minneapolis Lakers)

1959 – Bob Boozer (Cincinnati Royals)

1960 – Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals)

1961 – Walt Bellamy (Chicago Zephyrs)

1962 – Bill McGill (Chicago Zephyrs)

1963 – Art Heyman (New York Knicks)

1964 – Jim Barnes (New York Knicks)

1965 – Fred Hetzel (San Francisco Warriors) 

1966 – Cazzie Russell (New York Knicks)

1967 – Jimmy Walker (Detroit Pistons)

1968 – Elvin Hayes (San Diego Rickets)

1969 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwuakee Bucks)

1970 – Bob Lanier (Detroit Pistons)

1971 – Austin Carr (Cleveland Cavaliers)

1972 – LaRue Martin (Portland Trail Blazers)

1973 – Doug Collins (Philadelphia 76ers)

1974 – Bill Walton (Portland Trail Blazers)

1975 – Dave Thompson (Atlanta Hawks)

1976 – John Lucas (Houston Rockets) 

1977 – Kent Benson (Milwaukee Bucks)

1978 – Mychal Thompson (Portland Trail Blazers)

1979 – Magic Johnson (LA Lakers)

1980 – Joe Barry-Carroll (Golden St. Warriors)

1981 – Mark Aguirre (Dallas Mavericks)

1982 – James Worthy (LA Lakers)

1983 – Ralph Sampson (Houston Rockets)

1984 – Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets)

1985 – Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)

1986 – Brad Dougherty (Cleveland Cavaliers)

1987 – David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)

1988 – Danny Manning (LA Clippers)

1989 – Pervis Ellison (Sacramento Kings)

1990 – Derrick Coleman (New Jersey Nets)

1991 – Larry Johnson (Charlotte Hornets)

1992 – Shaquille O’Neal (Orlando Magic)

1993 – Chris Webber (Orlando Magic)

1994 – Glenn Robinson (Milwaukee Bucks)

1995 – Joe Smith (Golden St. Warriors)

1996 – Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)

1997 – Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)

1998 – Michael Olowokandi (LA Clippers)

1999 – Elton Brand (Chicago Bulls) 

2000 – Kenyon Martin (New Jersey Nets)

2001 – Kwame Brown (Washington Wizards)

2002 – Yao Ming (Houston Rockets)

2003 – Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

2004 – Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)

2005 – Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)

2006 – Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors)

2007 – Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers)

2008 – Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)

2009 – Blake Griffin (LA Clippers)

2010 – John Wall (Washington Wizards)

2011 – Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)

2012 – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)

2013 – Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers)

2014 – Andrew Wiggins (Cleveland Cavaliers)

2015 – Karl Anthony-Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)

2016 – Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

2017 – Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers)

2018 – Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

2019 – Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)

2020 – Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)

2021 – Cade Cunningham (Detroit Pistons)

2022 – Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic)

NBA Draft History

1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

The NBA Draft Is One Of The Year’s Top Highlights

The selection of NBA Draft picks annually are an exciting time in the basketball calendar. The results of the selection process can turn around the fortunes of a team that’s struggling in the league. Players and fans alike never miss the results as they watch new players being initiated into the world’s premier basketball league, the NBA!

If you’re a basketball fan then you can’t afford to miss the annual selection of NBA Draft prospects because not only is it massively exciting but it will also give you invaluable insights into what to expect in the upcoming season.