According to NBA league sources, the NBA’s lottery, which had originally been scheduled for May but is now being postponed, will have a similar format to last year’s lottery.
About as unsure an an online casino slots bet, there is still significant speculation regarding the form that the lottery will take. The order was placed in question after the regular season was interrupted but NBA officials are adamant that the form won’t change. Lottery-bound teams have the most to win or lose so they’re waiting for the final decision with heightened anticipation. Executives in the NBA, however, say that enough games have been played this season to set the order fairly and that teams can count on proceeding as planned.
According to NBA execs, there are several reasons that would keep the lottery order from being tweaked. While it is true that the circumstances of the 2020 lottery are unusual, there are good reasons for the NBA to maintain the status quo. All NBA teams have played anywhere from 63 to 67 games which is more than 75% of the season. That gives the NBA a representative sample to use when deciding the lottery order. It’s possible that there might have been shifts in the final few weeks of the season but decision-makers seem satisfied that enough games have been played to set the order fairly.
There were a number of changes that were implemented in last year’s lottery. Prior to 2019, the lottery determined the top three picks in the draft. The team that had the worst record was given a 25% chance to win the right to pick first while subsequent picks were determined by a sliding scale. As of 2020 the four top spots are selected via the lottery. This flattens the odds drastically and gives 3 teams with the least successful records 14% odds to win the top pick. Teams ranking from fourth-worst place through 13th have increased odds of moving up in the lottery.
By flattening the odds, teams that were on downward slides had more of a chance to move up. Last year was the first time that the changes were implemented successfully following failed attempts in 2014 and in 2017. After last year’s launch of the new lottery, the Los Angeles Lakers who were 11th in the lottery odds, and the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans, who tied for 7th place, moved up to the fourth, second and first places in the draft. In the interest in seeing the status quo maintained this year, league officials say that last year’s success means that there’s more incentive for the needed number of teams (23 out of 30 teams) to agree to keep things stable.
The annual combine for draft prospects was also cancelled this month. The combine brings prospects, agents, team reps and league officials together for a week of interviews, scrimmages and medical testing. The league still hopes to hold the combine later this year. A memo was sent to the teams to ask them to vote for players from a list of potential combine invites. The memo said they intend to decide on a scheduled format and invite players to the combine in the near future.
The league has not yet made it clear in which format the players will be participating. Teams look forward to the combine in order to get access to candidates’ medical information but they can do the interviews with players virtually. Scrimmages haven’t been a big part of the combine in recent years. Some league and team officials say that a virtual combine, where scouts, coaches and execs watch players work out virtually, would probably be the most likely scenario this year. One Eastern Conference official said, “I think, like everything, they’ll severely restrict who can be there, and they can maybe stream it. But I do think it’ll happen.”
The ever-optimistic LA Lakers have resumed training activities amidst league and state permission to reopen training facilities. The protocol for training involves following social distancing protocols during work-outs. Training is voluntary at this point and every player and staff member must decide for him/herself whether s/he will participate.
At the Lakers training camp, assistant coach Miles Simon and players Alex Caruso and Jared Dudley shared their excitement at returning to the court.
NBA games were cancelled on March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. Now the likelihood is that games will resume. California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that sporting events can take place in California beginning June 1st. The events will not include spectators. Player Jared Dudley responded to an enthusiastic fan’s tweet with one of his own: “This is what I been saying all along… We coming back! Those dates are about right.. might start a little later than the 4th.”
As the games slowly resume, the draft becomes the next major concern on everyone’s mind but time is at play. There’s been no formal announcement about the NBA draft being moved back yet but everyone agrees that it’s doubtful that the draft will be held next month as scheduled. The NBA will, almost certainly, hold the combine later this year when the situation will be clearer to all.