If you want to be in the NBA, it will help you, among other things, to be excellent at the game of basketball.
If you want to enter the NBA draft, no basketball skills are necessary.
There are a group of 18 people who are officially eligible for rosters for Thursday’s festivities at Barclays Center in New York, and they have one thing in common: They won’t be selected. The NBA includes them on what it calls List B – “unknowns,” officially. All that is required is to fill out the necessary paperwork to enter the draft, a process that has allowed some with no real basketball ability to apply.
This is a phenomenon that is not new. It lasted almost half a century; some do it and attract attention, others keep quiet. It’s a gimmick, of course, but the rules are clear: If someone meets the general criteria set by the NBA, then they can become “eligible” for the draft.
A Florida law student named Jordan Haber is one of this year’s 18 names; he posted several videos on TikTok describing how he got into this year’s project. He said he’ll be at Barclays Center Thursday night for the draft — with tickets from the arena’s social media team, not an invite from the NBA.
It’s really quite simple, as stated in Article X, Section 1 of the current collective bargaining agreement (which is only in effect until July 1st, but the rule on this is not expected to change much).
The player must be at least 19 years old in the calendar year in which the draft takes place, and at least one NBA season must have passed since the player graduated (or should have graduated) from high school. From there, all someone has to do is express interest in the NBA at least two months before the draft, waive the rest of their college eligibility if needed, and fill out some paperwork.
There are other rules, especially regarding international players, but that’s basically it.
IS THIS A GAP IN THE SYSTEM?
No, it’s not a loophole. This is part of a process that has been in place for years. List B is an opportunity for the longest of long shots to see if they can make it. The first known candidate was a player named Reinhard Schmuck, who played nine games in one season at Division III Baruch College. He tried out for the NBA two years later and told The Washington Post in 1987 that he was doing it to raise awareness of Baruch’s athletic programs.
“I’m really nobody,” the paper quoted Schmuck as saying. “I wanted to do it because there are so many kids who give up on their dreams.”
There is no official number, but it is believed to be in the hundreds. Author Jeff Perlman did as a student at Delaware in 1993; in an article he wrote a few years later for Sports Illustrated, Perlman revealed that the NBA called to say “nobody here has heard of you.”
In 2008, a student at Washington University in St. Louis named Zachary Feinstein attempted to enter the NBA and detailed the exploits on a web page.
He revealed this on this page: “Besides, I don’t play basketball,” he said.
But still entered the project.