The Sal’s NBL Draft Explained

One of the biggest talking points surrounding the Sal's NBL 2020 competition is the player draft that will see 84 players selected by the seven teams on Thursday 11 June.

Not only is it a first-ever for New Zealand's premier basketball league, but it also comes with a unique set of rules that require plenty of strategic thinking by coaches and players alike.

Before we look at the draft rules, let's answer some of the questions that have been asked of Sal's General Manager, Justin Nelson.


Q: Why is there a draft happening?

A: The world is a very different place compared to two months ago and we recognised that if we didn't change the way the 2020 competition would operate, the future of the Sal's NBL might be jeopardised. Once we worked out a path forward, we asked our teams what was needed to help them compete, and that's essentially how the draft came about. The teams made it clear they needed access to a pool of players, especially those teams in smaller regions given there would be no imports and access to enough local players would be difficult. The second main reason is that all teams this year are putting in the same money to support players, there is no longer a mix of spending, high or low, which has always happened in the NBL. So it was vital we provided financial equality for all teams that also helped to spread the talent to create a level, balanced and competitive competition. We hope the draft will help do this.


Q: How many players can register and how many will be drafted?

A: There will be 84 players drafted, but there is no limit on how many can register, or who can register. Any Kiwi or international player currently residing in New Zealand can register, along with Kiwis based in Australia. Of course, this particular competition is for males, you must be aged 15 years or over to play in the NBL, and if you are coming in from Australia you must follow the government's quarantine regulations. In some ways, there is a bit of nostalgia up for grabs for people being able to say "I was up for grabs in the first-ever NZNBL draft" so I think we may get a few players just keen to see their name in the draft pool, but no doubt the coaches will quickly identify who they are after. 


Q: Who designed the draft?

A: Primarily the concept and design has been put together by Dillon Boucher, Huw Beynon and myself. However, we have been fortunate to have some good people around us to help bring the final model together, including the General Managers and Coaches from the competing teams. It has very much been a collaborative effort.


Q: There has been talk of an Independent Panel. Who are they and what are they responsible for?

A: The panel consists of three people - Dillon Boucher, Huw Beynon and myself. Together this panel is in charge of overseeing the entire draft process, including the selection of the Top Rank 14 players, the pre-selection process, deciding on the draft selection order and managing the trade window. At any time we can tap into resources across the League, and also consult with the likes of our Tall Blacks coaching staff if required.


Q: Will the draft be something that stays past 2020?

A: The draft has been designed as a one-off to deal with a changed competition given the circumstances we find ourselves this year. Like all things, we will assess the initiative and the outcome, and if there is anything good we can use in the future we will look at it. But, at this stage, the draft is for the 2020 competition only.


Q: When will the draft be held and will it be broadcast?

A: The draft is scheduled for Thursday 11 June. We will provide broadcast details soon.



Before we start, let's explain what each team's roster must look like by the time the draft has been completed.

  • Each team must end up with a roster of 12 players.
  • Each roster will include an active group of 10 players and 2 emergency players. The emergencies will be called into action to replace any player who suffers injury, illness or has to return home for a legitimate reason.
  • Each roster is ranked by a draft position / Rank 1 down to Rank 12.
  • Player payments are made according to a player's Ranking (draft position).
  • Rank 1 players in each team get paid the most, which is equal across every team / Rank 2 players then all get paid the next amount / Rank 3 the next amount, then Rank 4 and so on.
  • The payments for each Ranking are the same in every team, there is no difference from team to team.
  • The top Rank 7 players in each team will be paid.
  • Rank 8, 9 and 10 players are non-paid positions. These positions can also be filled by amateurs.
  • Accommodation and food are covered for all players.


1. Player Registration - Monday 25 May to Friday 5 June 

Players from across New Zealand, including any international players currently living in New Zealand, will be eligible to register. Kiwis living in Australia and wanting to return to play will also be eligible, but will need to follow quarantine regulations should they be drafted to play.

The registration process will be available on the Sal's NBL website at

At the completion of the player registration window, teams will be provided with a full list of every player who has registered for the Sal's NBL Draft.


2. Pre-Selection Window - Saturday 6 June  to Tuesday 9 June 

Prior to the Pre-Selection Window opening each team will be notified of the Top Rank 14 players. This list will be put together by the NBL Independent Panel and will consist of the top 14 players who have registered to play. This list will be provided in alphabetical order.

Teams will have four days prior to Draft Night to pre-select players they wish to roster. There are four criteria that teams can use to pre-select a player for the draft. The criteria are;

1) The player has lived in the team’s allocated region for no less than 10 years at any one time.
2) The player has attended school in the team’s allocated region for no less than 4 years.
3) The player has previously played the bulk of their NBL minutes for the team.
4) The player had previously signed for the team for the 2020 Sal’s NBL season.

  • To pre-select a player, a team will offer the player a Rank on its roster.
  •  If the player accepts they will sign a pre-selection form and on draft night they will be announced to that position with that team.
  •  If the player declines the pre-selection offer, they will go directly to draft for selection on the night by any team.
  •  If under the pre-selection criteria a number of teams have access to a player, the player can assess all offers but can only sign one pre-selection form, or they can decline all offers and go directly to the draft for selection on the night by any team.

The Top Rank 14 Players

  •  No team will be able to pre-select more than (2) players from the Top Rank 14 list.
  •  Any Top Rank 14 player pre-selected must receive a Rank 1 or Rank 2 offer.
  •  Any Top Rank 14 player not pre-selected will go directly into the draft where they can be drafted in any round by any team.

On Wednesday June 10, the NBL Independent Panel will contact each team and advise them of their successful pre-selections, which will not be revealed publicly or to other teams. At this time teams will also be notified as to their available draft selections. The teams will also be provided with a list of players available for selection at the Draft.


3. The Draft - Thursday 11 June

The draft will take place on Thursday 11 June and will be broadcast live. Broadcast details are to be announced soon.

The Draft Order

On Wednesday June 10, the NBL Independent Panel will meet and assess each team roster following the completed pre-selection process. From this assessment, the panel will decide on the Draft Order for every round of the draft based on the overall depth of each team as presented following pre-selections.

The official Draft Order will be published at 3pm on Wednesday 10 June.

Draft Night

The Draft will be hosted and broadcast from one central location. Once the Draft starts, the process for each selection will be as follows;

  •  The host will announce the team making the next selection.
  •  If it is a successful pre-selection, the host will announce the name of the player who has been pre-selected.
  •  If the selection is a 'Live Pick' the team will be 'On The Clock' and will have 90 seconds to submit its selection to the League GM.
  •  The League GM will advise the host of the selection (player's name) and it will be announced.
  •  This process will continue for 12 rounds each containing 7 selections. The last two rounds are to select emergency players. 


4. Trade Window - Friday 12 June  to Sunday 14 June

Following the Player Draft, teams will have three days to complete a trade.

  •  Any trade must involve the same number of players coming in as the number of players going out.
  •  Multi-team trades are allowed.
  •  Players can be on-traded.
  •  Any player being traded must hold their payment according to their Rank. This payment cannot go up or down if they are successfully traded.


5. Official Rosters Confirmed - Monday 15 June 

Following the Trade Window, the League will announce the Official Team Rosters for the Sal's NBL 2020 competition.


6. Team Arrival - Friday 19 June 

Teams will arrive in Auckland and commence at least four days of further training ahead of the opening games on Tuesday 23 June.


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