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New NBA Labor Proposal: Bring Back Draft's Third Round

As the NBA and its players resume labor negotiations today, intriguing possibilities on one minor issue have begun to trickle into view.

The third round of the NBA Draft, which was removed after 1988, may be making a return, according to former ESPN basketball insider Chris Sheridan.

Owners have proposed reinstating the third round, which could be seen as a job-creating concession toward the players. Players, for their part, have responded with multiple ideas to enhance the draft and address owners' concerns about competitive balance.

Some of the players' proposals, according to Sheridan:

  • Half-rounds: The 15 teams with the worst records would hold the first 15 picks, but would then make the 16th through 30th selections, as well. The 15 best teams would choose 31st through 45th, then cycle through again from 46th through 60th. Having the league's worst team theoretically choose 1st and 16th could allow for the drafting of two immediate contributors and a quick rally to respectability.
  • Bonus first-rounders: The teams with the eight worst records would receive a second first-round pick between the 23rd and 30th selections. The eight best teams would have no first-round pick, but they would drop back to the first eight picks of the second round (31st through 38th) and also maintain their choices at the end of the second.

The last time the draft featured a third round, only one player chosen went on to a lengthy NBA career: Anthony Mason, drafted 53rd by Portland. Argentinian center Jorge Gonzalez, chosen one pick later by Atlanta, would gain some notoriety as the Sasquatch-suited WWF wrestler Giant Gonzalez, but never saw an NBA court.

Other notable third-round selections include longtime Nuggets guard Michael Adams, Laker veteran Kurt Rambis, and infamous Detroit Piston Bill Laimbeer.