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Sky Sports' 2023 NBA Draft Explained: Trades, first-round picks and lottery winnings

The selection of NBA draft picks is one of the highlights of the calendar, with team’s having spent the entirety of the season sculpting their rosters around it. If you’re new to it, it may seem complicated, but there’s not a lot to it once you sift away the jargon.

Victor Wembanyama, player from the Metropolitans 92 during a game against the Elan Bearnais, in Levallois Perret, near Paris, Tuesday, Sept.27, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
Image: Victor Wembanyama is the overwhelming favourite to be number one draft pick in June

We answer your curiosities and queries below, detailing out everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming months as the NBA prepares for another blockbuster spell of trading and claiming.

What is the NBA draft?

The NBA draft is an annual event in which teams select players from their American colleges as well as international professional leagues to join their rosters.

A team can select a player depending on whether they have gained the positioning in the league season to do so. Once they have claimed their pick, they have the exclusive rights to sign the player onto an official NBA contract.

This process began back in 1947, however it went through various shades of transformation, with fairer rules and policies set in place.

How does the NBA draft work?

The NBA draft is essentially made up of two rounds. In each round the teams are able to pick 30 players collectively, and 60 in the whole drafting process. Each team gets one pick depending on where they've finished in the league, though they can trade picks for current players if they feel it might help them win more games or achieve a certain goal. Teams can also obtain more than one new player per round.

The main aim of the drafting process is to help poorly performing teams, or teams in a rebuild process, improve their rosters, though teams who have done well are still able to pick new players.

Subsequently, the first 14 teams to pick are those that didn't qualify for the playoffs in the most recent season. These 14 teams are then entered into a lottery system to decide the draft order in which they get to pick new players.

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The lottery is conducted using numbered ping-pong balls which are then randomly selected by the machine. The team that wins gets the first pick, which was Paolo Banchero this year who plays for the Orlando Magic. The other 13 wait to hear their positioning in the standings.

Paolo Banchero drives against Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey.
Image: Paolo Banchero drives against Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey

The teams that did qualify for the playoffs become the next 16 picks, from numbers 15 to 30, and they pick in reverse order, so that the team to have won the league that season, gets the 30th pick.

In the second round, there is no lottery; picks 31 to 60 are decided in reverse order too, of the overall record of the teams in the most recent season. This means the best team gets the last pick, number 60, and the worst team gets the first pick, number 31.

Depending on where you end up, you could get the pick of the best prospective players from a new generation and completely transform the trajectory of your franchise.

What are the NBA draft's eligibility rules?

To be eligible to be picked, a player must be at least 19 years-old in the calendar year of the draft. They also have to be a minimum of one year removed from when they graduated from high school unless they are deemed to be an international player.

To claim eligibility, it's also necessary to have completed four years of college in the US, or four years passed since their graduation.

Similarly, they are also deemed eligible if they have played for a team outside the US under a professional contract.

Of course, there are also early entries, players who declare themselves eligible without having completed four years in college first. This comes down to professionalism of the club and players involved, though rules are always evolving to include new policies and terms.

When is the 2023 NBA draft?

The 2023 NBA draft is set to take place on June 22nd, 8pm Eastern Standard time, after all games have been completed in the playoff finals.

Where is the 2023 NBA draft held?

Where it has taken place since 2013: The Barclays Center in New York, home of the Brooklyn Nets.

Prior to this, the draft would be held at Madison Square Garden in New York and the Prudential Center in New Jersey.

Who are the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft?

Early January is usually the month in which NBA prospects aim to get the attention of teams before the draft. Victor Wembanyama hasn't had to do that. He's been all anyone's been talking about ever since his name entered the conversation last summer.

The 18-year-old, 7ft 4ins sensation has been unstoppable so far for Metropolitan 92, as recently as Thursday where he put 27 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks up for his team.

Victor Wembanyama  during the French National Basketball League game between the Paris Basket and the Metropolitans 92.
Image: Victor Wembanyama (right) during the French National Basketball League game between the Paris Basket and the Metropolitans 92

His numbers have been consistent across this season in France. Pair that with his freakish build and you get a man who knows he's cemented himself as the overwhelming favourite for the number one draft pick.

Scoot Henderson, the number two pick, might have been living in Wemby's shadow, but is still garnering his own attention.

Henderson hasn't played since November, after spending three weeks in concussion protocol. It seems his presence on the side-lines may stay that way, with G-League officials stating that he is being monitored out of caution for future NBA involvement.

Still, Henderson has shown across the G-League this year that he is every bit as tantalising as Wembanyama, in all the niche ways.

Who fills the gap behind these two? Well, the competition is far more intense, and yet things are also pretty uncertain, even in the Conference standings.

Amen Thompson is a name that's been thrown around. The 19-year-old point guard has showcased himself as the perfect clutch player, with silky ballhandling skills. Nick Smith Jr. and Ausar Thompson are also players to keep an eye on.

Can NBA teams trade draft picks?

Sure, draft picks can be obtained, but they can also be traded, a pretty common practice which poses for much more excitement and thrill.

As mentioned before, teams have been known to swap prospective players for more experienced, proven figures, to bring about wins, or fuel a playoff run.

For example, in 2018, the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks traded Luka Doncic (number three overall selection) and Trae Young (number five overall selection) on trade night. Neither man played for their original team and the swap was made quickly.

Of course, the Hawks might be regretting that, given what Doncic has become since (see Wednesday's league-record, 60-point triple-double).

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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic makes NBA history with 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double in overtime win against the New York Knicks

There are some restrictions. The Stepien Rule prevents teams from trading their first-round draft pick in consecutive years, just another way of ensuring things remain fair for all teams involved.

All of which will be on show this June as the 2022/23 NBA season comes to an end.

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