Thanks to NBA insiders like Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania, watching the NBA draft hasn’t been the same for the past few years. Instead, picks are spoiled with tweets announcing teams’ selections several minutes before they’re officially announced on television. There has also been an argument going around for years on NBA twitter, featured recently on ESPN’S High Noon, that the draft has lost its usefulness altogether.
This year, despite being urged to not spoil selections, the competition continued. Woj and Shams stayed active online, posting tweet after tweet. Woj, in particular, made things interesting by using verbs like “tantalized” and “has a laser on” that didn’t explicitly say teams were drafting particular players, making it so he didn’t technically leak anything.
Source: Boston is tantalized by Robert Williams with the 27th pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
Such an array of words made for great entertainment. As such, televising and watching the draft seems more pointless every year considering everyone can just turn to Twitter to get the same information sooner. But a televised draft still has value despite the reign of social media.
At the 2015 draft, the New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis, and Knicks fans in the crowd weren’t happy. We were introduced to the “crying Knicks fan,” and reacquainted with him again this year when Knicks fans expressed disappointment over Kevin Knox being picked at No. 9.
Knicks fans have me in tears pic.twitter.com/SIyeVZCsXh
— Born Salty (@cjzero) June 22, 2018
Whenever NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned the Golden State Warriors during last night’s draft, he was met with jeers from the crowd. We enjoy fan reactions, especially negative ones. It gives us all a greater sense of connection to a unified hatred of an evil empire. Fans are passionate, meme-worthy, they go viral. We don’t get that without a televised draft.
On a night where 60 players finally make it to the league, it can be difficult to learn about them all beforehand in anticipation that your team picks him up. But the draft is a chance to start learning about them. These guys get interviewed moments after they shake Adam Silver’s hand and cross a stage as an NBA player, and many of them are elated. Take Jaren Jackson Jr., for example. He was genuinely grateful and overjoyed to just be in the NBA, and it was a heartwarming sight.
But easily the most entertaining part of the draft now is the unofficial fashion show the prospects-turned-players put on when they cross the stage.
Fashion has long been a featured part of the NBA. But now, perhaps more than ever, it is being covered as a focal point. Player fashion is a statement, like the whole Cleveland Cavaliers roster coming to games in matching suits, or whatever Russell Westbrook chooses to sub-tweet on his shirt before a game. In fact, Westbrook’s pre-game walk-up on every nationally televised game has itself become an impromptu fashion show.
Players have even voted on who has the best fashion sense in the NBPA’s Players’ Voice Awards. There is a “Best Style” award at the NBA Awards for whoever is the most fashionable. Prospects go to designers like Jhoanna Alba to not only get luxurious custom attire for the draft but attire that is meaningful and personal to them.
During the draft’s second round, there was even a brief fashion segment that highlighted some of the best looks. Some pictures of certain players’ outfits are posted beforehand, but, for the most part, the draft is the first full look fans get at such looks.
This year, Wendell Carter Jr. wore a Black Panther-inspired outfit and did the Wakanda salute as he stepped onto the stage during player introductions. Carter’s parents even had outfits to match. Trae Young wanted to be different and went with a deep burgundy suit that featured shorts. DeAndre Ayton’s jacket lining featured the Bahamian flag. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander really stood out among his peers by sporting a floral suit inspired by a tablecloth. But fashion isn’t for everyone, and the draft isn’t without its flaws.
Come the second round, the draft gets boring and feels tedious. Most players aren’t there to celebrate their accomplishments, making the programming mostly commercials and a little commentary with tidbits of deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announcing picks. With less commercials, perhaps the second round gains more viewing value. Regardless, it’s during the second round that there’s more suspense in selections. Picks aren’t spoiled as much, and predictions become more difficult to make.
If you just want scoops, then the televised draft probably isn’t for you. It simply serves as confirmation for what’s posted online prior. But if you want the experience and entertainment, then the draft is still worth tuning into, because you get to be a part of that even if you’re thousands of miles away from the Barclays Center. A large part of being a sports fan is being a part of a community that includes the fans and athletes themselves, and watching the draft is an opportunity to be a part of an athlete’s journey.
Featured image from Brad Penner, USA Today Sports.