Sean Pendergast

Four Ways to Fix the Broken NBA Draft

Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone may be playing chess while we are all playing checkers.
Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone may be playing chess while we are all playing checkers. Photo by Jeff Balke
It's not often I jump into the NBA fray in this space, not because I'm not an NBA or Houston Rockets fan, but largely because my good friend Jeff Balke already does such a phenomenal job covering our squad. So you may not know that I've spent a large part of my childhood and adult life as a HUGE nerd for the NBA Draft. HUGE nerd.

Back in high school, in the run up to the 1984 NBA Draft, back when I was a card carrying Philadelphia Sixers fan, I would spend every study hall feverishly jotting down mock drafts in my notebook (when I DEFINITELY should have been actually, ya know, STUDYING). I loved the NBA Draft, like I loved nothing else in sports.

Through the years, the NBA Draft has become more tedious to follow, with so many players being one-and-done freshman, if not overseas players of whom I've watched practically zero film. This just in — a draft is way more fun to watch when you know who the players are!

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's changing any time soon. However, the NBA has done several other things to mangle and mutilate my beloved NBA Draft that are very fixable, and I am here to fix what can be fixed, and at least make my beloved NBA Draft remotely resemble the gathering I'd come to know and love back in the '80s and '90s.

So, here you go, Adam Silver! You're welcome!

Make "who has what picks" less complicated
Teams have been trading picks since the advent of the draft, either for players or for better picks. That's nothing new. Somewhere along the way, though, in the last decade and change, teams trading first round picks have been include to attach "protections" to them, where the picks may not convey to their trade partner if their pick is in the top 4, or top 10, or whatever is agreed to. Additionally, teams have started using pick swaps as a poor man's substitute to trading actual first round picks, where a team can choose to flip flop spots with a team in the first round. Well, this whole phenomenon, where it feels like half the picks have some contingency attached, has made the NBA Draft more difficult to follow, less fun to follow. I know NBA hyper-nerds may disagree, because they choose to enjoy the chess game of it all. I'm just saying, for the average person, it makes it all less understandable.

Stop this silly thing where trades aren't acknowledged until July
So the NBA's actually business year doesn't begin until several days after the draft. However, trades DO get made on draft night that go into effect at the start of the league year. So instead of just acknowledging the reported trades, the NBA does this stupid thing on draft night where players who are drafted with those traded picks, are still introduced as if the trades are not going to get made. Using a real life example, watch these videos of Luka Doncic and Trae Young getting drafted in 2017. Everyone knew that Luka was headed to Dallas and Young to Atlanta, but because the trade isn't in acknowledged for another week, we have to stick them in a baseball cap of a team they'll never play for:
If you think I'm being petty about this, then imagine Will Anderson getting introduced on draft night in a Cardinals cap when the whole world knows he's going to be a Texan. We'd have been robbed of the posterity of  the incredible moment of Anderson putting on that Texans cap.

Take away Adrian Wojnarowski's cell phone
I'm someone who likes to have social media open during things like the NFL Draft or the NBA Draft. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the premier NBA insider, was the first insider to take "spoiling picks" on Twitter to the next level. Prior to joining ESPN, when Woj was with Yahoo, he would spoil selections two and three picks ahead. That's how embedded he is with NBA front offices. Unfortunately, it ruins the experience for many folks, who like the drama of hearing the commissioner announce the picks. So when Woj got to ESPN, the network tried to get him to stop spoiling, so instead he does this snarky crap now where he uses phrases like "zeroing in" or "interest centered upon" to get around the demands of ESPN management. It's annoying, and honestly unnecessary.
Do something about the draft telecast
I suppose there are enough alternate outlets on draft night, with streamers and such, to where it may be petty for me to complain about the telecast, but dammit, I like ESPN! I don't want to go to some low level steak night at a dive bar, I want Morton's! ESPN's presentation was great back in the day, when someone like Rece Davis would steer the ship, tossing to Jeff Van Gundy, Jay Bilas, and usually some other former player. Now, the broadcast just lacks star power, and has become one more vessel to try to force feed Stephen A. Smith to us in gargantuan doses. I'd bring back Davis, and put him with Tim Legler, Kendrick Perkins and Jay Bilas, and let's go.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at, on Instagram at, and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast