It's official: NBA draft to become two-night event starting this year

2023 NBA Draft
2023 NBA Draft

Hoping to capitalize on the buzz around one of the biggest nights of the NBA calendar, the NBA has officially expanded the NBA draft to two nights, the league announced Wednesday.

"Based on feedback about the NBA draft format from basketball executives around the league and my own experience in draft rooms, we believe that teams will benefit from being able to regroup between rounds and having additional time to make decisions during the second round," NBA Head of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars said in a statement. "Two nights of primetime coverage will also enhance the viewing experience for our fans and further showcase the draftees.”

That second part is the key — it's not a coincidence that this change happens while the NBA negotiates new national broadcast rights deals. The spread-out second night is much better for NBA executives trying to make tough decisions. However, it's fair to ask how many people will tune in for the entire second round, outside of the hardcore NBA fans who were already watching.

The 2024 NBA Draft will see the first round on Wednesday, June 26 and the second round on Thursday, June 27.

Viewers will notice little change on the first night. Teams will still have five minutes between picks, so the pacing remains the same (time to analyze the player just selected, do a brief interview, and talk about the best players remaining on the board or any potential trades.

The second round will feel very different. First, teams will have a night to stop and think about their next moves. Second, the time between picks in the second round will double to four minutes from two previously. That allows for first-round like pacing of the broadcast and ensures that something like Nikola Jokic getting drafted during a Taco Bell commercial does not happen again. That said, it could get weird near the end of the second round — while there are notable exceptions, few of the players selected after No. 45 ever touch an NBA court. There are a lot of "draft and stash" European players taken at this point.

This is a good experiment by the league — try it for a few seasons, see how it works and how league executives feel about it, and then adjust as needed. The NBA has always given the draft a little short shrift because it comes just a week or two after the end of the NBA Finals (the NFL has mastered turning the draft into a second season). This will help the NBA on that front.