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NBA lays out rules for team contacts with Draft prospects

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Arizona v UCLA Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The NBA Draft is still scheduled for June 25 at Barclays Center but Draft preliminaries are going to be different this year for both teams and prospects. The NBA Draft Combine was scheduled for mid-May in Chicago and prospect workouts normally start around now, but both seem highly unlikely with stay-at-home rules banning any meaningful gatherings.

So the NBA has started to lay out rules for teams as they plan for the Draft while still adhering to coronavirus bans. Shams Charania broke the story late Monday.

The Draft Combine is usually the last chance for teams to see prospects in large-scale competitive settings, but the interview sessions are also a big part of the combine. It’s where teams judge prospects on character, intelligence, etc. A Nets interview with Caris LeVert back in May 2016 convinced Sean Marks and the front office to trade Thaddeus Young for the 20th pick in that year’s Draft where they took the Michigan product without working him out. LeVert was then midway through his rehab following ankle surgery.

That said, the loss of the Combine and workouts will hurt. The Nets have regularly work out 60 prospects at HSS Training Center, looking not just at prospects for the Draft, but also summer league invitations, two-way deals and the Long Island Nets roster.

Sean Marks said last week that while the Nets would have liked to see more of the prospects, particularly with the cancellation of March Madness, he’s confident in his scouts, noting that the Nets already have a wealth of knowledge.

““I think the biggest challenge for everybody is potentially the lack of exposure we would have to these athletes,” said Marks. “Usually, there is a drawn-out process of individual workouts, agent workouts, obviously the combine, draft interviews, bringing them into your facility and obviously talking to them, but also getting your performance team and your coaches to get your hands on them and evaluate them...

“So that needs to be a scenario where everybody needs to be prepared for every different outcome. But this is a case where you trust the work that your scouting department has done over the last year to two years and I have the utmost faith in our group.”

Marks also said he’d welcome input from his own players on prospects.

Under Marks, the Nets have built up their draft apparatus that includes operations in both the U.S. and overseas as well as an extensive database that includes not only data on prospects but video clips of them in action.

The Nets currently have the 20th and 55th picks in the Draft. Among the players who draftniks have linked to the Nets are Saddiq Bey of Villanova and Patrick Williams of Florida State, both 6’8” small forwards, and Nico Mannion, a 6’3” point guard out of Italy and Arizona.

As for the Draft itself, the league has yet to make any decisions. However, the NBA could follow the lead of the WNBA whose 2020 Draft, schedule for a week from Friday, will be a virtual affair with commissioner Cathy Engelbert reading out the names “from somewhere in New Jersey,” as she said, and picks sequestered with their families. The Liberty have the first overall pick and are expected to take Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon, the NCAA women’s player of the year. ESPN will broadcast both the WNBA and NBA drafts.