The 2018 NBA Draft isn’t until June, but now is an important time for draft-related news. That’s because players all around college basketball are starting to declare for the draft, but that doesn’t always mean those players are done with college.
Stars like Trae Young and DeAndre Ayton have already announced their intentions to go pro, but there’s about to be a huge wave of draft-related announcements hitting the internet. This is your reminder that players who declare for the draft aren’t necessarily leaving their college teams for good.
New NBA draft rules implemented in 2016 give college basketball players more options
Previously, players only had one option in declaring for the NBA draft. They could either declare for the draft or stay in college, and there was no in between. Players received feedback from the NBA before making their decisions, sure, but they didn’t get to perform in front of scouts. Two years ago, the NBA and the NCAA announced rules that were more player-friendly. Now, players are allowed to declare for the draft with or without hiring an agent. Hiring an agent means you’re all in: the NCAA won’t let players have agents and still be eligible to compete in college athletics. Not hiring an agent means you’re still allowed to return to school if you decide it’s not time to go pro yet.
Related: Here’s our 2018 NBA mock draft
What’s the advantage/disadvantage of hiring an agent now?
Hiring an agent lets players get the most out of their draft experience. Agents know what the NBA draft process entails, so at least hypothetically, should be able to help players put their best foot forward as they meet and work out with NBA teams.
It also means players can leave school and train without worrying about staying academically eligible for next season. Many schools have agreements that let athletes return to school later to finish out their degrees, so players who sign with agents can start working out as full-time basketball players this spring. Those who declare without hiring an agent still focus on basketball during this period, but they at least have some school obligations. Hiring an agent and going all-in eliminates distractions.
What’s the advantage/disadvantage of not hiring an agent and keeping your eligibility?
The big advantage here is that you don’t have to do anything. Entering the draft process without an agent means you’re sort of going it alone. With no agent leading the way, it’s possible you’re not getting the most workouts with pro teams thanks to said agent. Players “testing the waters” also haven’t had much success in the two years they’ve been allowed to do so.
The draft process is a vastly different experience for players testing the waters and those fully committed to declaring in terms of the type of training they receive, the communication they are allowed to have with agents and teams, and the seriousness with which their candidacy is taken by NBA executives. Playing at the combine can be a humbling experience, undressing a player’s weaknesses for all to see. Since the new early-entry rules were instituted, only one player (Pascal Siakam, No. 27 pick in 2016) who participated in the combine while testing the waters went on to be picked in the first round that year.
What’s interesting is that the new early-entry rules might be having the opposite effect of what the NCAA intended. In each of the past two years, the numbers of players who have elected to keep their names on the early-entry list at the deadline has broken the previous all-time record. Last year, 64 collegiate players kept their names in the draft, and of those, only 37 were eventually picked. Sixty college players kept their names in the 2016 draft, with 30 hearing their names called in June.
Still, players testing the waters aren’t committing to anything. They’re becoming better educated about their future and are getting more of a chance to make money than they would be if they didn’t declare at all.
Here are the deadlines involved
Here are the three big deadlines players who are declaring for the draft will need to consider:
- Players must declare for the draft by April 22 to be considered
- The NBA Draft Combine runs from May 16-20 in Chicago
- Players must withdraw from the draft by May 30 to remain eligible for college play
- The 2018 NBA Draft is on June 21