Payton Sandfort

Draft Notes: Two-Day Format, Sandfort, Penda, Early Entrants

The NBA will hold a two-day draft for the first time this year, but the concept has been batted around for over a decade, according to Jeremy Woo of ESPN, who hears from a team source that a group executives first presented the idea to the league in 2011. Extending the second round to give teams more than two minutes per pick was one important reason for the change, as Woo details.

“Way more second-round picks would be traded every year, except (due to the lack of time between picks) no one knows who has them,” one Eastern Conference executive told Woo. “A team makes a trade, then another trade. I’m spending 10 minutes hunting down picks, and by the time you find out where it is, it’s too late to make a deal.”

“… The second round is not fun. Chaos. Insanity. Not how we should be running our business. This will solve that. We didn’t need a second day, we just needed a longer second round — but I understand we can’t start at 3 p.m. or finish at 3 a.m., so this is a good solution.”

The second round of the draft will get its own day this June and there will be four minutes per pick instead of two. The hope is that, in addition to giving front offices more time to consider their options – including potential deals – the second night of the draft will allow the league’s broadcast partners to better spotlight the 28 players being selected in round two.

“The second round has become more and more important,” NBA head of basketball operations Joe Dumars told ESPN. “Rosters have expanded, and you’re seeing a larger influx of talent into the league, a lot of times from the second round. (The one-day format) was not doing justice for the second-round picks and the teams.”

While it remains to be seen exactly how adding an extra day to the draft may change teams’ strategies, sources who spoke to Woo suggested they wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more action than usual during the final few picks of the first round – as teams look to land players before rivals get a chance to reset their boards – and the first few picks of the second round, after clubs have had 24 hours to consider their options.

Here’s more on the NBA draft:

And-Ones: Scoring Rate, McGruder, A. Williams, Sheppard

There has been a noticeable dip in points and fouls per game across the NBA since the All-Star break. According to Marc Stein at Substack, entering Tuesday’s games, teams were averaging 111.7 points and 19.9 free throws per game since the All-Star game, compared to 115.5 points and 22.7 free throws per contest prior to the break.

As Stein notes, there has been some speculation that – following a record-setting first half and an embarrassing All-Star game that saw nearly 400 points scored – the NBA quietly instructed its officials to call fewer shooting fouls in recent weeks.

However, a league spokesperson told Stein that the league office hasn’t given any directive to referees to call games any differently. The NBA’s position, then, is that the recent trend is a statistical anomaly, though those numbers are worth watching down the stretch, Stein writes.

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

  • Olimpia Milano and veteran guard Rodney McGruder have parted ways, the Italian club announced today (via Twitter). Milano’s statement indicates that McGruder was granted permission to return to the U.S. for personal reasons. The 32-year-old wing, who has appeared in over 300 NBA regular season games and was in camp with the Warriors last fall, averaged 7.6 PPG and 2.6 RPG in seven EuroLeague games this season.
  • Drexel big man Amari Williams has opted to enter the NCAA transfer portal while declaring for the 2024 NBA draft, agent George Langberg tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Williams, who has year of NCAA eligibility remaining, has been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, though he’s not on ESPN top-100 prospect list for ’24.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic names the nine NCAA prospects he’ll be watching most closely in March, starting with Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard. Hollinger jokingly suggests that NBA evaluators have been trying to avoid reaching the conclusion that Sheppard is this year’s best college prospect “despite having the evidence punch them in the face every day.” Providence’s Devin Carter and Iowa’s Payton Sandfort are among the less obvious names on Hollinger’s list of players to monitor.