Understanding the NBA Draft
Before we delve into how many players are entered into the NBA draft, it's crucial to understand what the NBA draft is all about. The NBA draft is a yearly event where teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can select players who are eligible and wish to join the league. These players are usually fresh college basketball players, but can also be international players or other amateur players. The selection order is determined by a lottery system, with the worst teams getting the best chance of earning a high pick.
The Draft Eligibility
Not every player is eligible to enter the NBA draft. To be eligible, a player must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft and must declare their eligibility. For U.S. players, they must also be at least one year removed from the graduation of their high school class. This rule, known as the "one-and-done" rule, has been a subject of controversy, with some arguing that it forces players to go to college for a year instead of going straight to the NBA.
Number of Entrants in the NBA Draft
Now, to answer the question at hand: how many players are entered into the NBA draft? The number of players who declare for the NBA draft varies from year to year. However, typically, around 60 players are selected in the draft. This doesn't mean that only 60 players declare for the draft. In fact, the number of players who declare can be much higher. For instance, in the 2020 NBA draft, a record 205 players declared — 163 from colleges and universities, and 42 international players. However, not all of these players are selected in the draft. Some will return to college, others will seek opportunities in other leagues, and some will simply go undrafted.
The Selection Process
As mentioned before, players are selected in the NBA draft based on a lottery system. The 14 teams that did not make the playoffs in the previous season are entered into a lottery. The team with the worst record has the best chance of getting the first pick, while the team with the best record among these 14 teams has the least chance. After the first three picks are determined through the lottery, the rest of the teams are ordered in inverse order of their win-loss record. This process is repeated in the second round of the draft.
After the draft, players who were selected join their respective teams and begin their NBA careers. However, not all players who are selected in the draft end up playing in the NBA. Some may be cut during training camp, while others may choose to play overseas or in the NBA's developmental league, the G League. Meanwhile, players who go undrafted are free to sign with any team. They can negotiate a contract with any team, and can also play in the G League or overseas.