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What the NBA Lockout Means for the 2012 NBA Draft

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What the NBA Lockout Means for the 2012 NBA Draft
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

October is approaching, and the NBA is nowhere close to having the lockout issue solved.

So, if the NBA never plays a single game for the 2011-12 season, what will it do about the NBA draft?

If the NBA can finally figure things out before the 2012-13 season, there will be much speculation on how that season's NBA draft will be handled.

In the past, the teams with the bottom 14 records are put into a lottery, giving the highest odds to the team with the worst record.

Without playing a season, though, how could the NBA determine who will have the highest odds?

As of now, the NBA has nothing set up because the league is essentially frozen, and nothing can be decided between the league and the union that represents its players.

The NBA has never been in this position before because the 1998-99 lockout was resolved midseason and the NBA was able to get in 50 games.

At this point, that is the only hope, but things are not looking good currently.

The NBA could go with the records from the 2010-11 season, right?

 

Rich Lam/Getty Images
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That is one idea, but it would seem to be unfair to give a team that possibly made the move up in the standings with the previous draft to receive another early pick. 

A team like the Cleveland Cavaliers could potentially double-up on first-round picks, adding another dynamic player to their addition of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson from the 2011 NBA Draft.

The other possibility is the NBA could give the entire league an equal chance in the lottery and go through all 30 picks by the luck of draw.

This is the route the NHL took following its 2004-05 season lockout, so this option has some history for the NBA to look back on.

The NHL gave every team an equal shot at the No. 1 pick, and then it performed a snake draft. Basically, the team with the first pick in the previous round would get the last pick in the next round.

It seems like a good idea, but I just don't think that would be right or fair.

That could create a controversy, too. Elite teams like the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers could potentially land the No. 1 pick.

Nick Laham/Getty Images
College Standouts Like Ohio States Jared Sullinger May Have to Stay Another Year or Decide to Go Overseas After He Passed Up on the 2011 NBA Draft

So what is the best option for the NBA?

Star college players are going to hate this, but the NBA should eliminate the 2012 NBA Draft if it ends up being locked out the entire upcoming season. I see this being the most likely option if the issues are not resolved for the entire 2011-12 season because there would be no agreements in place.

There really is no right or just way to determine how things would have played out, and any scenario makes no sense in terms of fairness. It would be unfortunate for college players that had stellar seasons, but it would be great for the college programs so they could eliminate the "one and done" system for at least one season.

The biggest issue with this concept is the case of senior players.

The NCAA would likely not be able to go beyond its rules of playing years, and college basketball doesn't use a system like college football where players can be redshirted.

Perhaps it could make a special accommodation for the situation, but the NCAA is not just about creating professional athletes.

 

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This is where the situation gets confusing, and I honestly do not have an answer. Any concept of the draft would seem unfair to teams, especially if their clubs improved, but it is also unfair for the collegiate players who were ready to move on with their careers.

There is one option. This would work for any player that would want to move on from college and the senior athletes.

They could go overseas.

Many NBA players have been looking to go overseas due to the lockout, so there will at least be an idea of how this will work out for prospective NBA players. 

Going overseas has its benefits, but it also carries a huge problem.

The benefit is that players could potentially build their stock, playing in a more professional system. Playing against better competition could build players' skill set and make them have better credentials once they do enter the NBA draft. Highly regarded prospects may see this as unnecessary, but it could be a valuable option for those who are on the draft bubble.

The problem is that a player could get injured. Since players get paid significantly less overseas—unless they are a superstar—they could be missing out on an NBA contract they have worked their whole careers for.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
David Stern Needs to get Things Settled Between the Owners and Players, Otherwise the Mess is Just Going to Build

This fear for injury puts players in a difficult situation. I would imagine that many underclassmen and juniors would stay for another season if the NBA eliminated the draft, but others may be ready to make money. Graduating athletes may not have a choice, unless the NCAA makes an exception to the rule as previously mentioned.

The current lockout stands in the way of many things.

The new CBA has the potential to the change the way the draft works, so nothing can be said as of yet what the league will do. That being said, if the league still has not figured things out by 2012, who knows what that could potentially do for those NCAA athletes.

The NBA has a really difficult situation on their hands. This is one of the bigger issues that will come up when the college season gets under way and we get closer to the draft. We will have to see how the NBA and the players union decides to handle it.

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