In the past, the NBA and NCAA have worked together on an annual calendar that provides fairly rigid dates and deadlines each year for draft-eligible prospects and players who decide to enter the draft early. However, given the coronavirus pandemic currently affecting every aspect of life in North America and around the world, that calendar could be a whole lot more fluid this year.
Already, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a key part of the pre-draft schedule for NBA scouts and evaluators, has been canceled, and that event is highly unlikely to be the last one in the draft process impacted by COVID-19.
With that in mind, we’re using this space to keep tabs on the 2020 NBA draft dates and deadlines, as currently scheduled. If deadlines listed below are changed or certain events are eliminated altogether, this post will be updated to reflect that.
So, with the caveat that these dates and deadlines are extremely tentative for the time being, here are the dates worth watching in the coming weeks and months:
April 16 (11:59pm ET): Deadline to request evaluation from NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee
An early entrant who requests an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee can hire an NCAA-certified agent without worrying about losing his remaining college eligibility.
April 26 (11:59pm ET): Deadline for early entrants to declare for the draft
College underclassmen and international early entrants have until the end of the day on April 26 to submit their names into the 2020 NBA draft pool. They can always withdraw their names later if they decide they’re not ready to go pro this year.
May 17-19: G League Elite Camp (Canceled)
In a typical year, 40 NBA G League invitees would participate in the first half of this mini-camp before 40 top draft-eligible players who weren’t invited to the combine participate in the second half. Those invites would be sent out at the start of May.
However, this year, the event will almost certainly be postponed, canceled, or revamped to avoid having 80 players brought together.
May 19: NBA draft lottery (Postponed indefinitely)
In theory, the lottery could be conducted without needing to bring reporters, league executives, draft prospects, and representatives from every lottery team into one room. However, given how much scrutiny the lottery process faces from fans and team executives alike, the NBA may have to get creative to find a way to do it remotely.
If the NBA aims to resume its 2019/20 season later in the spring or in the summer, this event will almost certainly be postponed. But if the regular season is over, here’s what the lottery odds should look like.
May 19-24: NBA draft combine (Postponed indefinitely)
This five-day event typically allows NBA teams to get a first-hand look at many of this year’s top draft-eligible players. It’s particularly important for early entrants who have yet to decide whether or not to stay in the draft. The feedback they get at the combine goes a long way toward dictating whether they keep their names in the draft or return to school for another year.
In 2020, we may not have a combine at all. If that happens, it won’t just disappoint early entrants looking for feedback — it’ll also be a major problem for teams looking for medicals on this year’s prospects. Medical testing is usually completed at the combine, so if there’s no combine, clubs will put pressure on the NBA to find another way to get them those records.
College underclassmen who want to retain their NCAA eligibility will have to withdraw their names from the draft pool by June 3. 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 if the player wants to be able to play college ball again.
Of course, if the combine ends up getting postponed, perhaps this deadline would be pushed back along with it. The NCAA has expressed a willingness to work with the NBA if certain dates and deadlines need to be adjusted, and this is one that appears up in the air.
June 15 (5:00pm): 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.
Since this date always comes 10 days before the NBA draft, it figures to be delayed if the draft itself is delayed.
June 25: NBA draft day
In theory, the draft could still proceed as scheduled on June 25, especially if the NBA ultimately gives up on resuming the 2019/20 season. The WNBA is doing a “virtual draft” in April, and if it’s a success, the NBA could opt for a similar arrangement.
However, if the NBA is able to resume its season and plans to have the playoffs run through August or September, it’s hard to see how the draft could still happen on June 25. It’s an offseason event that frequently features double-digit trades over the course of the night’s 60 picks and leads into Summer League a week or two later. That wouldn’t work if it takes place months before the offseason actually begins, so a postponement seems entirely possible.