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.
HOW DOES THE DRAFT WORK?
Before we start, let's explain what each team's roster must look like by the time the draft has been completed.
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 www.nznbl.basketball
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.
The Top Rank 14 Players
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.
The Draft will be hosted and broadcast from one central location. Once the Draft starts, the process for each selection will be as follows;
4. Trade Window - Friday 12 June to Sunday 14 June
Following the Player Draft, teams will have three days to complete a trade.
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.