Preparing for the Draft

Even the best basketball players in history were at one time rookies. And they all had to come from somewhere: college, high school, or professional leagues in other countries. One thing that most of the greatest NBA players have in common is that they were all, at one time, drafted.

The Draft: The 2009 NBA Draft will take place on June 25. All 30 teams gather in New York City and select new players for their teams. Some of these players are in college, some are playing overseas. When they get drafted, though, they'll be playing in the NBA next year.

Draft Lottery: Because great players can have an immediate impact on an NBA team, the draft order is very important. The NBA uses a lottery system to decide who gets the first pick. All the teams that didn't make the playoffs this year had a chance at winning the draft lottery, which was held earlier this week. The Los Angeles Clippers, who were 19-63 and finished in second to last place in the Western Conference, won the lottery and will have the first pick in the draft. After the Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards round out the Top 5.

Making teams better: One of the main purposes of the NBA Draft is to give poor teams a chance to be more competitive. If a team has a bad season and misses the playoffs, they will get a high draft pick. The idea is that the team will select a great player in the draft and be better next year. The teams that have good seasons and make the playoffs don't get to pick players until after the lottery teams make their picks.

Top picks: Most basketball experts and fans think that the Clippers will select Blake Griffin, a very good power forward from the University of Oklahoma, with the first pick in the draft. Many of today's All-Stars were former top overall picks, including Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Yao Ming (2002), Tim Duncan (1997) and Shaquille O'Neal (1992). Hall-of-Famers Patrick Ewing (1985), Magic Johnson (1979) and Kareem Abdul Jabar (1969) were all former top picks.

What it means: The NBA Draft means different things for teams, players and fans. For the 30 NBA teams, it provides a chance to get better. If a team needs a good point guard, it might be able to find one in the draft. Sometimes, a team is lucky enough to draft a future All-Star or even Hall-of-Famer. Nobody knows exactly how good these new players will be, which makes it a very exciting event. For the new players, getting drafted means that they have finally realized their lifelong dreams of playing in the NBA. Being drafted means that all their hard work has paid off. For the fans, the draft provides hope that their favorite team will get better.

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