The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has robbed the NBA of what was turning into an exciting year given all the intrigue about who could win the championship.
Both Los Angeles teams and the Milwaukee Bucks were the clear contenders, but several teams in both conferences also made their cases and would be formidable opponents in come playoff time.
While most of the interest during the 2019-20 NBA season was understandably about who would separate themselves at the top, the teams at the bottom also had their eyes set on the 2020 NBA Draft.
Although most draft analysts have mentioned that the upcoming class of draftees is not very strong, there are still quality players to be had and there is always a couple of players who end up surpassing their draft position.
Due to the novel coronavirus crisis, there is some uncertainty as to how the NBA Draft lottery order will shake out, but according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, it appears no changes are in the works:
Although some will inevitably grumble about the order being determined by an incomplete regular season, the belief among several executives is that the lottery will remain as scheduled before the pandemic. “I wouldn’t expect changes,” one executive with a lottery-bound team said.
Of the lottery-bound teams, the Golden State Warriors have a vested interest in lottery positioning as they currently own the worst record in the league at 15-50. The other teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Atlanta Hawks all are within a game of each other and could have used the rest of the regular season to develop their young pieces and improve secure their lottery odds.
The NBA recently made changes to how the lottery works, with the bottom-three teams all having the same 14% chance to win the No. 1 selection. Meanwhile teams four through 13 saw their chances of moving up increase.
While this in theory was implemented to discourage tanking, there were inevitably struggling teams like the Warriors who organically lost games due to injuries or lack of talent.
Although teams have not been able to host workouts and meet with players like they would in normal years, the scouting departments for each organization will still be doing their best collecting data on each draft entrant and building their draft boards.
With the pandemic ongoing, the lottery and draft will feel different but should be just as exciting as always given what is at stake for these young players.