From the Publisher’s Desk is a series of insights, musings and updates from Rathnelly Group Media President and Publisher of Bay Street Bull and GLORY, David King. In the weeks to come, you will find here insights from a business owner (and sports fan) during these trying times, roundups of elevated content that you can consume while in quarantine and updates on all things that are changing at GLORY as we navigate this new world. 

What if……the NBA and NHL drafts were to go ahead as scheduled?

Yesterday the NFL announced that, in spite of the majority of General Manager’s protests, the league’s annual Draft would go ahead as scheduled.  The league has until April 24th to pull it off and besides, President Trump wants this thing over by Easter right?

It’s not so simple in theory, some teams have begun workshopping the idea of Facetiming prospective players, while others like the Buffalo Bills have already begun. But, considering how efficient our own offices’ team Zoom calls are suddenly becoming, maybe the NFL draft will be alright.

Sure, team personnel will have no real means for talent evaluation beyond watching game tape and interviewing players over FaceTime but, the show must go on.

Time will tell, but the bigger question is: Will people actually miss the draft? Let’s be honest, the NFL draft can be boring, it lasts three days and isn’t exactly must-see-TV with half of the first round now filled up with gargantuan O-Linemen you’ve never heard of and probably never will. 

Regardless of how this plays out, the NFL season doesn’t start until September so while we assume Trump’s buddies will all figure their shit out, it’s the NHL and NBA drafts everyone is even more curious about.

With both seasons now on an indefinite hiatus and each leagues annual draft coming up in late June — right around the time in which the CDC has suggested that the earliest sporting events may be able to resume play sans fans, emphasis on the word may — we can only imagine how this all will play out. 

Assuming each season actually resumes play with a truncated season and playoff schedule, here are some musings on what could actually happen:

Will the drafts still go ahead as scheduled?

Our best guess is yes. The major sports leagues around the world are starving for content right now. They’ve got nothing to work with, hence why the NFL is pushing hard to go ahead with the annual draft as scheduled. With MLB’s season originally slated to start today, the NFL is the only league hypothetically still on track in 2020 so a talking head draft it is. The NBA and NHL on the other hand will optimistically start around the same time as their respective drafts are to take place, but what if they don’t? Of all the professional sports drafts in North America, the NBA has by far the most entertaining draft with instant celebrities being crowned with each Lottery pick, and the NHL is just as popular in Canada so we expect that regardless of the situation at the time, each draft will go ahead as scheduled but they’ll definitely be compromised in some way. 

How will NHL and NBA teams be able to evaluate talent? 

This is a tricky one. Traditionally the NBA has March Madness, the Portsmouth Invitational in April and the NBA Draft Combine in May. However, all but the combine are now officially cancelled and it’s only a matter of time before it follows suit. Similarly, NHL talent evaluators have seen the cancellation of all of their traditional stopping points leading up to the draft as the CHL Playoffs, Memorial Cup, NCAA Final (Frozen) Four and NHL Draft Combine are all cancelled. At this point all the NBA and NHL executives can do is pray that they can at least hold individual workouts and interviews with players maybe in May, assuming it is again safe to travel by then. 

If the NHL and NBA Drafts take place before their seasons resume, will drafted players be able to suit up for their teams?

This is a fun question to ask but absolutely not. Each league season is governed by their respective collective bargaining agreements and while contracts are traditionally signed in the summer, when we expect league play to resume, we have to assume that each league will not allow drafted players to join their teams for 2019-2020 season play but they may somehow figure out a way to allow players to join their teams and workout with current players prior to 2020-2021 training camps, so that could be very interesting for incoming rookies. 

How will teams know what they need to draft for?

They won’t really. Without seeing their respective seasons play out or having been able to see who fits on their team after their trade deadlines — or seeing who put on too much weight/bulk during quarantine, this year the NHL and NBA executives will essentially be drafting somewhat blindly to their needs.

What could go wrong?

Do you remember Darko Milicic? Good ‘ol Darko was drafted in the second spot of the 2003 NBA draft right behind some guy named LeBron and in front of another guy named Carmelo. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade followed, so you know the rest. That’s not to say that NBA and NHL teams are going to pick a bunch of Darko’s this year but it does make a lot of room for error when identifying talent and personalities that will inevitably earn massive sums of money based on limited assessments.


Will we still watch?

Without a doubt! Sports drafts are, in the end, all about the potential and the future, and the world needs a whole lot of that right now. Regardless of if we are watching suited up 20-year-olds walk on stage to shake Adam Silver or Gary Bettman’s hands or watching a bunch of talking heads and FaceTime calls on our screens, sports fans desperately need something to look forward to and what better way than to let them look into the crystal ball and see what the future holds. 

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