The deadline for early entrants to declare for the 2018 NBA draft has now passed, but news of those decisions continues to trickle in. Earlier today, Rob Dauster of NBC Sports reported that Wichita State forward Markis McDuffie is testing the draft waters, giving himself the option of withdrawing his name later in the process and returning to school for his senior year.
Until an official early entrant list is released, we may continue to hear about last-minute decisions like McDuffie’s. Still, for the most part, 2018’s initial early entrant list appears set. Now it’s time to look ahead to see which 2018 NBA draft dates and deadlines are up next. For instance, just how long will McDuffie have to decide whether or not to pull his name from this year’s draft pool?
Let’s run through the timeline…
April 27: Invites issued for draft combine
This one isn’t listed on the NBA’s official calendar of key offseason dates, but Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports reported last week (via Twitter) that combine invitations are expected to be sent out to prospects this Friday. That means we shouldn’t have to wait much longer to find out which players will be in attendance at next month’s event.
May 15: NBA draft lottery
The 2018 draft lottery will be conducted in Chicago on May 15, with the NBA moving up the event to ensure it takes place before the combine. That should give teams with lottery picks a better idea of which players they want to talk to and get a closer look at later in the week.
Pistons and Celtics fans will want to keep an eye on this year’s lottery just in case those clubs beat the odds and secure a top-three pick. Detroit will send its first-rounder to the Clippers unless it lands in the top three (2.5% chance), while the Sixers will get the Lakers‘ first-rounder unless it moves up to No. 2 or No. 3 in the lottery, in which case it’ll be sent to Boston (2.9% chance).
Otherwise, teams at the bottom of the NBA’s standings – like the Suns, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Hawks, and Magic – will have the most at stake on May 15.
The full pre-lottery draft order for 2018 can be found right here.
May 16-20: NBA draft combine
This five-day event, which also takes place in Chicago, allows NBA teams to get a first-hand look at many of this year’s top draft-eligible players (though perhaps not a handful of 2018’s very best prospects, since potential top-five picks don’t have much to gain by participating in the combine).
The combine will be particularly important for early entrants who have yet to hire an agent. The feedback they get at the combine could go a long way toward dictating whether they decide to keep their names in the draft or return to school for another year.
May 30: NCAA early entrant withdrawal deadline
College underclassmen who want to retain their NCAA eligibility will have to withdraw their names from the draft pool by May 30. NBA rules call for a later withdrawal deadline, but the NCAA has its own set of rules that say the deadline is 10 days after the combine.
As such, a college underclassmen could technically wait until after May 30 to withdraw from the draft and he would retain his NBA draft eligibility for a future year. However, he would forfeit his amateur status in that scenario, making him ineligible to return to his NCAA squad.
June 11: NBA early entrant withdrawal deadline
This is the NBA’s final deadline for early entrants to withdraw their names from the draft pool and retain their draft eligibility for a future year. By this point, we generally know whether an NCAA underclassman kept his name in the draft or not, but this is an important deadline for international players, who aren’t subject to the same restrictions as college players. We’ll likely hear about several international early entrants withdrawing from the draft during the days leading up to June 11.
June 21: NBA draft day
The most exciting few weeks of the NBA offseason unofficially get underway on draft day, which is often when the first major trades of the summer are completed and we get a sense of which direction certain teams are heading.
It’s also worth noting that the hours and days after the draft ends will be hugely important for many of this year’s draft-eligible prospects — a ton of players who aren’t selected with one of the 60 picks in the draft will reach agreements shortly thereafter to play for an NBA team’s Summer League squad, or even to attend training camp with a club.