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The last NBA CBA tussle: (How) Did it Affect the Draft?

Help me answer this question.

The impending NBA lockout has some potential for affecting the upcoming draft class. Since last summer I've been as guilty as anyone of promoting a storyline Oceanary repeated in a recent post:

It's because we're going to end up with a top 5 pick in a year where no one declares

Underclassmen aren’t going to risk jumping into the draft with a lockout likely to wipe out a whole year of basketball for them. That means most of the players who do declare are going to be guys who don’t have a choice. IE college seniors, IE Kyle Singler

We all strongly suspect that the last draft was affected in exactly the opposite way, with star NCAA players declaring if they were on the fence. (One twist I've offered is that European players faced exactly the opposite set of pressures: a few potential lottery picks didn't declare last time [due in part to the crowd of NCAA prospects], but in June 2011 they'll maybe face a thinner field of college kids, and anyway they can always pick up a one-year contract and play out a lockout overseas.)

We do have a fairly recent example to look to, though, in judging how a draft class might be affected by a lockout. The '98-'99 NBA season didn't start until February 5, 1999.

How did that lockout change the preceding draft? Can we learn anything from that history? You answer that question.

Is the timing similar, in terms of draftees' decisions?

Basically the CBA window came up at the same moment, and the lockout began on July 1st just as it presumably will next summer.

The specific schedule for potential draftees has changed somewhat over time. I can't recall if underclassmen had quite the same flexibility as far as declaring and then withdrawing their names, back then, and anyway the schedule wasn't quite the same for that. However, the outlines are the same.


How did the two sides perceive the likely duration in 1998, as opposed to today?

The 1998 work stoppage was anticipated to be serious. CBS News at the moment it happened:

The lockout will, in essence, shut down the league. Teams will be barred from talking to their players, trades and free agent signings will be prohibited and summer leagues will be canceled.
...
This will be third lockout in the history of the NBA, the only major American professional sports league never to have lost a game to a work stoppage.
A lockout in the summer of 1995 lasted three months, and a lockout in 1996 lasted only a couple of hours.
By all indications, this one could drag on into the fall or winter.

On the other hand, even a few days before the lockout occurred, Dave D'Allessandro was still saying only that a lockout was likely. Hardly the "We may lose a whole year" tone of 2010-11.

A 'short version' by me would be haphazard at best, but I would say our 2011 version is evincing even more serious brinksmanship on both sides of the table. Ownership has already made some fairly extreme demands, which the union's responded to by making some noise about actual decertification and antitrust actions. A meeting will occur during All Star Weekend, apparently, which given the tone of the previous round of saber rattling only makes me wonder if ownership isn't trying to divide the players by pitching to stars separately from the "middle-class" Union reps. Divide to conquer and all that.

Players today are absolutely taking the threat seriously. Billy Hunter has apparently been telling them to save lockout money for the last couple of years. (That same CBS News article says the Union was talking about it the previous year back then, too.)

As a young casual fan in the late 1990s, too, I don't remember quotes like this from almost every source a full season ahead of events:

This is also why Billy Hunter is wrong when he tells Howard Beck of the New York Times that he is "99 percent sure as of today that there will be a lockout," because there is a one hundred percent chance there will be a lockout next July.

– Ball Don't Lie

In general, I get the sense that today's negotiations are at least as serious, and as likely to have drastic consequences, as the ones that cost the NBA half a season (and canceled the All Star Game). Also, back in 1998 the NBA had never lost games due to a labor dispute. That precedent is gone.

 

How did the impending 1998 lockout affect the draft?

Here's our question. 

We can maybe try to answer this by looking at three draft classes: 1997, 1998, and 1999.

The dynamics of the draft are always changing, complicating our comparison. 1997 was something of a watershed in that Tim Duncan was at the top of the draft class as a 4th-year senior; three of the top four picks that year were actually seniors. However, the High School picks Kevin Garnett had encouraged were also steadily cracking the lottery, too: Tracy McGrady was that year's edition. In 1998 Seniors slipped in the top half of the first round, and Dirk Nowitzki was heralding the arrival of the new obsession with Europeans. And so on.

 

Top of the 1997 First Round:

These are Wikipedia's tables. In theory if players were spooked by a potential CBA problem, some might have anticipated things by declaring a year earlier, and we'd maybe see that here.

Pick

Player

Nationality

NBA Team

School/Club Team

1 Tim Duncan* (F/C)  United States Virgin Islands San Antonio Spurs Wake Forest-Sr.
2 Keith Van Horn (PF)  United States Philadelphia 76ers Utah-Sr.
3 Chauncey Billups* (PG)  United States Boston Celtics Colorado-So.
4 Antonio Daniels (PG)  United States Vancouver Grizzlies Bowling Green-Sr.
5 Tony Battie (C/PF)  United States Denver Nuggets Texas Tech-Jr.
6 Ron Mercer (SF)  United States Boston Celtics Kentucky-So.
7 Tim Thomas (SF)  United States New Jersey Nets Villanova-Fr.
8 Adonal Foyle (C)  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Golden State Warriors Colgate-Jr.
9 Tracy McGrady* (G/F)  United States Toronto Raptors Mt. Zion Christian Academy (Durham, NC)
10 Danny Fortson (PF)  United States Milwaukee Bucks Cincinnati-Jr.
11 Tariq Abdul-Wahad (SF)  France Sacramento Kings San Jose State-Sr.
12 Austin Croshere (F)  United States Indiana Pacers Providence-Sr.
13 Derek Anderson (SG)  United States Cleveland Cavaliers Kentucky-Sr.
14 Maurice Taylor (PF)  United States Los Angeles Clippers Michigan-Jr.
15 Kelvin Cato (C)  United States Dallas Mavericks (from Minnesota) Iowa State-Jr.

1998: The analogous draft to 2011's:

Pick Player Nationality NBA Team School/Class when drafted
1 Michael Olowokandi (C)  Nigeria
 United Kingdom
Los Angeles Clippers Pacific Jr.
2 Mike Bibby (PG)  United States Vancouver Grizzlies Arizona So.
3 Raef LaFrentz (C/F)  United States Denver Nuggets Kansas Sr.
4 Antawn Jamison+ (F)  United States Toronto Raptors (traded to Golden State) North Carolina Jr.
5 Vince Carter* (G/F)  United States Golden State Warriors (traded to Toronto) North Carolina Jr.
6 Robert Traylor (F/C)  United States Dallas Mavericks (traded to Milwaukee) Michigan Jr.
7 Jason Williams (PG)  United States Sacramento Kings Florida Jr.
8 Larry Hughes (SG)  United States Philadelphia 76ers Saint Louis Fr.
9 Dirk Nowitzki* (PF)  Germany Milwaukee Bucks (traded to Dallas) DJK Würzburg (Germany, 2nd division)
10 Paul Pierce* (G/F)  United States Boston Celtics Kansas Jr.
11 Bonzi Wells (G/F)  United States Detroit Pistons Ball State Sr.
12 Michael Doleac (C)  United States Orlando Magic Utah Sr.
13 Keon Clark (F/C)  United States Orlando Magic (from Golden State via Washington) UNLV Sr.
14 Michael Dickerson (SG)  United States Houston Rockets Arizona Sr.
15 Matt Harpring (F/G)  United States Orlando Magic (from New Jersey) Georgia Tech Sr.


1999: Where talent that had stayed out of the fray might show up:

Pick Player Nationality NBA Team School/Club Team
1 Elton Brand* (PF)  United States Chicago Bulls Duke-So.
2 Steve Francis+ (G)  United States Vancouver Grizzlies (traded to Houston) Maryland-Jr.
3 Baron Davis* (PG)  United States Charlotte Hornets UCLA-So.
4 Lamar Odom (F)  United States Los Angeles Clippers Rhode Island-Fr.
5 Jonathan Bender (G)  United States Toronto Raptors (from Denver, traded to Indiana for Antonio Davis) Bardstown High School(Bardstown, KY)
6 Wally Szczerbiak+ (SF)  United States Minnesota Timberwolves (from New Jersey) Miami (OH)-Sr.
7 Richard Hamilton+ (SG)  United States Washington Wizards UConn-Jr.
8 Andre Miller (PG)  United States Cleveland Cavaliers (from Boston) Utah-Sr.
9 Shawn Marion* (F)  United States Phoenix Suns (from Dallas) UNLV-Jr.
10 Jason Terry (G)  United States Atlanta Hawks Arizona-Sr.
11 Trajan Langdon (SG)  United States Cleveland Cavaliers Duke-Sr.
12 Aleksandar Radojević (C)  Yugoslavia Toronto Raptors Barton County JC (Kansas)-So.
13 Corey Maggette (SG/SF)  United States Seattle SuperSonics Duke-Fr.
14 William Avery (PG)  United States Minnesota Timberwolves Duke-So.
15 Frédéric Weis (C)  France New York Knicks Limoges (France)
16 Ron Artest* (SF)  United States Chicago Bulls (from Phoenix) St. John's-So.
17 Cal Bowdler (PF)  United States Atlanta Hawks (from Sacramento) Old Dominion-Sr.
18 James Posey (SG/SF)  United States Denver Nuggets (from Milwaukee via Phoenix) Xavier-Jr.
19 Quincy Lewis (SF)  United States Utah Jazz (from Philadelphia) Minnesota-Sr.
20 Dion Glover (SG)  United States Atlanta Hawks Georgia Tech Jr.
21 Jeff Foster (PF)  United States Golden State Warriors (traded to Indiana) SW Texas St. Sr.
22 Kenny Thomas (PF)  United States Houston Rockets New Mexico Sr.
23 Devean George (SF)  United States Los Angeles Lakers Augsburg Sr.
24 Andrei Kirilenko (SF)  Russia Utah Jazz CSKA Moscow (Russian Basketball Super League 1981
25 Tim James (SF)  United States Miami Heat Miami sr.
26 Vonteego Cummings (PG)  United States Indiana Pacers (traded to Golden State) Pittsburgh Sr.
27 Jumaine Jones (SF)  United States Atlanta Hawks (traded to Philadelphia) Georgia So.
28 Scott Padgett (PF)  United States Utah Jazz Kentucky Sr.
29 Leon Smith (PF)  United States San Antonio Spurs (traded to Dallas) M. L. King HS (Chicago)

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