The global coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, affecting how businesses function. For the NBA, the COVID-19 virus has the league’s season in peril.
In the latest twist, the league is adjusting how team personnel can evaluate NBA draft prospects, and it could have a direct impact on what the Warriors do with one of the top overall picks.
The latest rule changes, reported by The Athletic and ESPN on Monday, will affect teams’ preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft, which is scheduled to be held June 25 in Brooklyn, New York. Under the new structure, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, teams will be permitted to spend up to four hours in virtual meetings with a prospect during the pre-draft process. Of that time, teams can only spend two hours per week talking to each prospect.
In-person workouts or requesting that a player workout via live video have been prohibited by the league, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported.
While the rule change hurts most prospects, players like center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball are greatly hindered by the development.
And the Warriors’ ability to properly evaluate Wiseman and Ball is equally affected.
In just 12 games in his lone season in Australia’s NBL, Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists before a foot injury cut his season short. Despite averaging double digits, he shot just 37 percent from the field against inferior competition. Ball hasn’t played in a game since late November.
Meanwhile, Wiseman averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in just three college appearances before withdrawing from Memphis amid recruiting violations. His last game was on Nov. 12.
There just isn’t a lot of recent video of either player for teams to evaluate.
Each player will be subjected to digital video chats featuring general managers, coaches and front office staff. The setup isn’t ideal for either side.
Players — especially those with something to prove like Wiseman — where hoping to make an impression on teams who have limited film. In Ball’s case, he wanted a chance to show he has improved his weaknesses.
For teams, it strips away the ability to evaluate a player in person, which helps get a better grasp of the human element, similar to the final step of a job interview.
[RELATED: Warriors not high on Wiseman, Ball]
The first test case of this practice is the NFL, who will hold the first virtual draft in its history later this month. Only the NFL has been able to hold its combine last month, giving teams a chance to interview players in person, providing an advantage NBA team personnel do not have.
The Warriors personnel, along with the rest of the league, will have their work cut out for them as the coronavirus timeline continues to define a new normal for sports.