NBA Draft Rules and Regulations: Eligibility Age, Lottery; College and International Players

The NBA draft is set to start on Thursday night at 8 p.m. EDT, and people are wondering about the rules and regulations.

The biggest question is about the age eligibility. All drafted players must be at least 19 during the calendar year of the draft. Basically, to see if a player is eligible, subtract 19 from the year of the draft. If the player is born during or before that year, he’s eligible.

Also, any player who isn’t an international player must be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class. This is an additional requirement to the age eligibility.

International players are defined as those who have not completed high school in the U.S., have never enrolled in a college in the US., and have permanently lived outside the U.S. for at least three years before the draft while playing basketball outside of the U.S.

Players are automatically eligible for the draft if they have completed four years of college or four years have passed since their high school class graduated. Players whose 19th birthday falls during the calendar year of the draft can also be eligible if they have signed a contract with a professional team outside of the NBA–anywhere in the world–and have played under that contract, but have been released.


Other questions arise about the draft lottery. Every team that doesn’t make the playoffs automatically enters the lottery, which determines the order of the first 14 picks. Only the top three picks are determined directly by the lottery, giving the chance for any of the teams to get one of those picks. 14 numbered table tennis balls are used.

The team with the worst record gets the most chances to get the top pick, followed by the team with the second-worst record, and so on. Teams that leap ahead then push back the other teams in the draft. For instance, if the No. 13 team gets the No. 1 pick, then the No. 12 team then gets pushed back to No. 13, and the No. 1 team gets pushed back to No. 4 unless it received one of the top three picks as well.

Here’s the lottery draft order for this year.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Milwaukee Bucks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Orlando Magic
5. Utah Jazz
6. Boston Celtics
7. Los Angeles Lakers
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Charlotte Hornets
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Denver Nuggets
12. Orlando Magic
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
14. Phoenix Suns


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