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Report: NBA Likely Won't Have 'Normal Predraft Process' Because of Coronavirus

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2020

Jaylen Hoard participates during the second day of the NBA draft basketball combine in Chicago, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

As the NBA continues to weigh potential options for resuming its season and adjusting the league calendar, the NBA draft in late June is likely to become the next immediate hurdle. 

According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, the teams are already preparing for a highly unusual draft process due to the coronavirus pandemic and the government restrictions that have followed its outbreak:

"The pre-draft process usually involves a substantial amount of commercial travel for both NBA executives and prospects. This year, according to sources, that might be limited by the risks associated with COVID-19, so NBA front offices are preparing for the possibility of making decisions about prospects without the usual access to workouts, a combine or pro days. That would lead to an increase in watching the available video -- including full college, international, high school and AAU games.

"A delayed pre-draft process and NBA draft would have large ripple effects. College coaches could be left waiting to shape their rosters, not knowing which underclassmen are returning. Several agents say that their current focus is on keeping the professional players they have rather than adding new clients, especially prospects expecting expensive training, housing and other costs before officially joining an NBA team."

The draft is currently scheduled for June 25, but it's not clear if the season will be completed by then—or even played at all. The NBA hosts a predraft combine for prospects in Chicago, but it's also unclear if that will happen given the travel and large gathering restrictions. 

Since the combine generally provides crucial information on prospects, Givony notes one executive has raised the notion of teams voting on a group of players they'd like medical info for, asking those prospects to visit available hospitals for physicals and then pooling the information league wide. 

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Givony further reports teams with high draft picks may try to charter flights for potential lottery picks to conduct interviews and workouts. 

"If a team wants to keep those medicals out of the hands of 29 other organizations, they might try and lock down that player with a promise that they'll draft them," an NBA team president told ESPN.  "It wouldn't surprise me if agents decided to go out and do their own medicals and then dispersed them to the teams of their choosing to try and guide players to specific situations."

For the most part, teams will have to rely on video analysis of draft picks in order to make their decisions. The one benefit of the hiatus, as Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, is that there's finally time for coaches to review ample college games ahead of the draft. 

Whether or not the NBA takes steps to help teams scout beyond that remains unknown. 

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