2022 NBA Draft

New League To Compete With NCAA, G League For Players

Overtime Elite, a newly-formed basketball league, will compete with college teams and the NBA G League for the services of top high school players, Kevin Draper of The New York Times reports.

Sports media company Overtime will seek to stock its league with approximately 30 players, some as young as 16 years old, by offering a minimum of $100K. Participants could also receive signing bonuses as well as shares in Overtime’s larger business.

The company will provide health and disability insurance, as well as an additional $100K in college scholarship money for players who choose not to play professionally. Anyone who joins the league would forfeit their eligibility to play high school or college basketball.

Last year, the G League became a stronger competitor to the NCAA for the projected one-and-done players coming out of high school. The league formed the Ignite Team, comprised mainly of top prospects, with financial enticements of $500K or more per player.

The new Overtime Elite will be located in one unnamed city, where players will live and train together. An educational support staff will assist in helping the players receive their diplomas.

The basketball operations division will be headed by former 76ers and Kings executive Brandon Williams. Aaron Ryan, who previously worked in the NBA league office, will serve as the league’s commissioner.

And-Ones: McDonald’s Game Rosters, Cooper, Suggs, More

While the game itself won’t be played this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald’s formally announced its ceremonial rosters this week for the annual All American Game, a showcase of the nation’s top high school players.

The 24-player boys squad is headlined by a number of prospects who are expected to be lottery selections in the 2022 NBA draft, including Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jabari Smith, whom ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz had as the top three picks in their first ’22 mock draft in December.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Auburn point guard Sharife Cooper, the No. 9 ranked prospect on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 NBA draft, may have played his last game for the Tigers, writes Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Cooper is in a walking boot after suffering an ankle injury, and ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes said during Tuesday’s Auburn/Florida broadcast that he’d be surprised if Cooper returns this season. “We will see how the week progresses. We never rush guys back,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “He is working to try and get back, but we just don’t know.”
  • NBA teams picking in the top half of the 2021 lottery will have to determine whether Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs – who is the third-leading scorer for the Bulldogs this season – is capable of becoming a primary option at the next level or if he projects to be a star role player, writes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. Suggs is the No. 4 prospect on ESPN’s 2021 big board.
  • Johnathan Williams, who recently parted ways with Turkish team Galatasaray, didn’t take long to find a new home, having signed with Niners Chemnitz in Germany for the rest of the season, according to the club. Williams, a 6’9″ forward/center, spent time with the Lakers in 2018/19 and the Wizards in ’19/20, averaging 5.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 39 total NBA games.
  • Former first-round pick Jared Sullinger, who hasn’t played professionally since 2019 and hasn’t been in the NBA since 2017, has reportedly agreed to a deal with Anyang KGC in South Korea, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Sullinger spoke last month about his goal of making it back to the NBA.

And-Ones: Giannis, Lillard, 2021 FAs, 2022 Draft

During the offseason, before Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his super-max extension with the Bucks, he and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard discussed the possibility of working out together, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said on his Posted Up podcast (hat tip to NBC Sports).

The idea of two stars working out with one another during the offseason is hardly novel, but it would have been new for Giannis, who generally never works out with anybody who’s not on his team, per Haynes.

Sources tell Haynes that Antetokounmpo and Lillard also talked about what it would look like if they played together. While the idea of these two stars leaving for bigger markets has been a subject of speculation for years, both Lillard and Antetokounmpo have proven to be extremely loyal to their current clubs — and it doesn’t sound like this conversation was any exception.

“I believe Dame was trying to tell Giannis about what it would look like, him playing in Portland,” Haynes said, per NBC Sports. “And same vice versa, Giannis trying to tell him what it’d be like playing in Milwaukee.”

In other words, neither player expressed any interest in leaving his current team. And with Lillard locked up through at least 2024 and Antetokounmpo through 2025, it seems unlikely it will happen anytime soon.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Despite a flurry of preseason extension agreements that took some top 2021 free agents off the board, there will still be plenty of talent available on the open market next summer, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who ranks his top 21 FAs for ’21. Kawhi Leonard, Victor Oladipo, and John Collins lead the way, while Talen Horton-Tucker sneaks onto the list at No. 21.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype identifies the 10 players most likely to sign maximum-salary contracts in 2021. In addition to top free agents like Leonard, Oladipo, and Collins, Gozlan lists a handful of players who will be eligible for rookie scale extensions later in the year, including Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) took a look 18 months into the future and published their first mock draft for 2022. Big man Chet Holmgren is their early projected top pick, while a pair of Duke commits – Paolo Banchero and Adrian Griffin Jr. – are in the top four.

And-Ones: Fan Attendance, 2022 Draft, March Madness, Oladipo

For the time being, the NBA is expecting between about five and 10 teams to have fans in their arenas (at partial capacity) to start the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The league has expressed a hope that teams will be able to have some amount of fans attend games this season despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and has sent teams a list of health and safety protocols that will apply to each home arena.

However, clubs’ decisions will be dictated in large part by local government officials. In areas where large-scale gatherings aren’t permitted, it seems safe to assume that teams will open the season playing in front of empty arenas.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world as we gear up for a wild week:

  • There’s growing pessimism around the NBA that the age limit for draft-eligible players will be eliminated in time for the 2022 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). There’s still an expectation that the one-and-done rule – which prevents players from entering the draft right out of high school – will be adjusted at some point, but the target date for that rule change continues to be pushed back.
  • The NCAA announced this week that it plans to have its March Madness tournament for 2021 take place in a single location, likely in Indianapolis. The event had originally been scheduled for 13 separate sites, but the NCAA has decided a single site makes more sense for safety reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has joined the ownership group assuming control of the New Zealand Breakers of Australia’s National Basketball League, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press. “I was always interested in being part of team ownership, having input with a team and helping a team be successful on the business side of things,” Oladipo said. “To work with a team from this perspective, I’m sure I’ll have newfound respect for the guys who have been in that position.”

Top 2022 Recruit Emoni Bates Commits To Michigan State

High school wing Emoni Bates, a five-star recruit who is considered the top prospect in the 2022 class, announced today on ESPN’s SportsCenter that he has committed to Michigan State, writes Travis Branham of 247Sports.com.

Bates, a 6’8″ small forward who plays high school ball in Michigan, is still just 16 years old but is already considered one of the best NBA prospects in years — Branham suggests that Bates may be the most highly-regarded high school prospect since LeBron James.

Despite Bates’ commitment to Michigan State over Michigan, there’s no guarantee that he’ll eventually suit up for the Spartans. As Branham notes, the youngster has long been considered a good bet to go pro out of high school rather than spending a year in the NCAA.

It’s possible that by 2022, the NBA will have tweaked its rules to allow players to enter the draft right out of high school. Even if the league’s one-and-done rule is still in place in ’22, Bates could opt for the G League professional path. Top 2020 recruit Jalen Green is reportedly expected to earn over $1MM in salary, endorsements, and appearances in 2020/21 by going that route.

NBA, NBPA Resume Talks To End One-And-Done Rule

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have resumed discussions in recent weeks about ending the league’s one-and-done rule and lowering the minimum age to 18, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony.

According to Wojnarowski and Givony, those talks have been infused with some urgency, since the league still hopes to change the rule in time for the 2022 draft. If the rule is changed for that year, there will be a greater influx of talent in the ’22 draft, with high school seniors and college freshman each getting their first chance to declare as early entrants. Those draft picks will, in turn, become more valuable.

“There was a run on trying to get 2022 picks at the trade deadline,” one GM told ESPN.

While both sides would like resolution, the NBA’s desire to convince the NBPA to make concessions on rules related to the availability of prospects’ medical information and combine attendance and participation have been obstacles, per ESPN.

The NBPA has felt pressure from the agent community to resist the NBA’s efforts to gain control of prospects’ medical information, sources tell Woj and Givony. Conversely, the league doesn’t want to lower the minimum age to 18 without some giveback from the players’ union.

As negotiations between the league and players’ union continue, the NBA and USA Basketball have reached an agreement to allow teams to begin scouting Team USA’s 16-under national camps this May, Woj and Givony report. Players at that camp could potentially be available in the 2022 draft. Previously, NBA teams were only permitted to scout 18-under camps and programs.

NBA, Players Association Face Final Hurdles To End One-And-Done

The NBA and the Players Association seek to lower the age limit to 18 for athletes to have the option of skipping one year of college, two major hurdles stand in the way of an agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts are pushing for agents to provide medical information to teams regarding draft prospects, Wojnarowski relays. Also, the NBA wants players required to attend and participate, to varying degrees, in the pre-draft combine.

Withholding medical records has been one effective tool for agents and players to ensure which team drafts them. Requiring them to provide that information would alter those plans and give organizations more intel on prospective players and their health.

“Some organizations are run better than others,” one prominent agent told ESPN. “A lot of success comes from a player getting into the right situation at the right time. If I can do something that influences that, why would I give that up?”

If an agreement can be reached, high school seniors would be eligible to declare for the NBA Draft starting in 2022. The current ‘one-and-done’ rule came into effect as part of the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement, making the draft-eligible age 19, giving prospects the option of one year in college or playing overseas for one season.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the G League will offer an alternative to one-and-one. Starting in 2019, select contracts worth $125K will be offered to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft. The standard G-League salary is $35K.

NBA: No Major Draft Eligibility Changes Before 2022

The NBA has informed its teams that there will be no changes to the league’s draft eligibility rules to allow players to enter the draft right out of high school until at least 2022, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Currently, players must be at least 19 years old and must be at least one year removed from high school before they’re eligible to enter the NBA draft, which results in most top prospects attending college for one year before going pro.

Way back in November of 2017, we heard the NBA and the players’ union were discussing the possibility of adjusting draft eligibility rules with an eye toward eliminating that one-and-done path. The Commission on College Basketball subsequently issued a report this past April recommending that the one-and-done rule be altered or eliminated. While that appears likely to happen at some point, a July report indicated it wouldn’t occur until at least 2021 — now we know we’ll have to wait at least one additional year beyond that.

If and when the NBA opens the door for players to enter the draft out of high school, that draft year figures to be flooded with top prospects. For instance, if it happens in 2022, the top high school grads of that year would join that season’s top college freshman in the ’22 draft class. As such, the league would prefer to give teams plenty of notice for when it will happen.

With the league’s draft eligibility rules expected to remain unchanged until at least 2022, the NBA G League is set to offer top high school prospects an alternative to the usual one-and-done route in the NCAA. As we relayed earlier today, “select contracts” worth $125K – well over the standard $35K G League salary – will be available starting in 2019 for elite prospects who aren’t yet draft-eligible.