2020 NBA Draft: Teams benefiting from postponement, lottery odds and what else we know

The NBA’s team owners moved Thursday on a board of governor’s call to resume the season beginning in late July in Orlando, Florida, sending a cascading effect throughout the league’s teams and its tentacles that now formally alters the NBA Draft process.

The NBA Draft will be held on  

Much of the predraft process has already been put on pause indefinitely anyhow, with in-person interviews and workouts disallowed because of the pandemic. But Thursday’s news charts a definitive course on how the league, its 30 teams, and every prospective NBA player testing the draft process will proceed. There is a new withdrawal deadline for underclassmen, a plan for how this year’s lottery order will be formulated, and a structure on how playoff teams in the new 22-team format will be slotted in the draft (and more).

To break it all down I held a question and answer session — with myself, because why not? — to clarify in layman’s terms what this all means for the draft, the players, and the teams.

When will the draft itself be held?

The NBA’s answer to that very question on its website starts with an “if” — if the season resumes as scheduled on July 31. So for posterity, the if is a requirement for my answer, too. But tentatively if things go off without a hitch, the draft lottery will be held August 25, and the draft will be held on Oct. 15 — just six weeks before the scheduled start of the 2020-2021 NBA season.

Who benefits from only 22 teams returning?

From the scope of a draft lens, this could wind up benefiting the eight teams who were excluded from the league returning: the Hawks, Hornets, Bulls, Pistons, Cavs, Warriors and Timberwolves. All eight have locked in a lottery spot and can now fully turn their attention to draft preparation — which has been the focus of every team during the pandemic — instead of playing out the season. It’s perhaps a small head start and advantage for teams whose season came to an abrupt end.

Who has the best lottery odds?

The NBA’s lottery system dictates that the three teams with the worst record are given 14% odds of winning the lottery. And because that’s the case, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves — whose season has effectively ended — will all share those odds leading into the draft lottery.

Did the lottery odds system change?

This is a special circumstance that requires further clarification. Here is exactly that, from the NBA:

The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs.  These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11.

So to reiterate: Golden State, Cleveland and Minnesota would all have 14% odds of winning the lottery. Then the teams in the fourth through eighth spots in the lottery would have slightly lower odds as the record of the team improves. Once the ninth through 14 spots are settled via the remainder of regular season play, the odds would shake on down to whoever is eliminated in decreasing likelihood, all the way to .05% odds for the 14th team.

So the Warriors might get the No. 1 pick?

Yes, the Warriors currently have the best odds — along with Cleveland and Minnesota — to get the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Yes. Some dynasty, huh? (/ducks)

Here is the full breakdown of the lottery odds:

  • 1. Golden State: 14.0%
  • 2. Cleveland: 14.0%
  • 3. Minnesota: 14.0%
  • 4. Atlanta: 12.5%
  • 5. Detroit: 10.5%
  • 6. New York: 9.0%
  • 7. Chicago: 7.5%
  • 8. Charlotte: 6.0%
  • Team 9 > 4.5%
  • Team 10 > 3.0%
  • Team 11 > 2.0%
  • Team 12 > 1.5%
  • Team 13 > 1.0%
  • Team 14 > 0.5%

How will the rest of the draft order be sorted?

This is (somewhat) business as usual here. Per the NBA: “The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.”

But it’s a bit more complicated. There are really three separate categories outside the eight surefire lottery teams who were excluded.

The first category– teams who would be in the late lottery but can win their way to a playoff berth — is comprised of the Wizards, Suns, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings and Trail Blazers. The second — teams projected to be in the playoffs but can lose their way into the lottery — is comprised of the Magic, Nets and Grizzlies. The third — teams who have clinched a playoff spot but whose final positioning will be determined by the seeding games — consists of the Mavericks, Pacers, 76ers, Thunder, Rockets, Heat, Jazz, Nuggets, Celtics, Clippers, Raptors, Lakers and Bucks.

What does it mean for the deadline to withdraw?

The NCAA announced a new deadline on the latest possible date when underclassmen can withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school. Previously set for June 3, it is now set for August 3 or 10 days after a to-be-determined NBA Draft Combine, whichever comes first.

What are the other relevant draft dates?

You can find everything about the NBA’s new format, the schedule and more here, but here’s a handy look at every key date related to the draft,

  • June 15: International players return to markets
  • Aug. 3: Withdrawal deadline (or 10 days after draft combine)
  • Aug 25: NBA Draft Lottery
  • Oct. 12: Game 7 of the NBA Finals (if necessary)
  • Oct. 15: NBA Draft
  • Oct. 18: Start of free agency

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