The NBA 2K League announced earlier today that four expansion teams will join the league for the 2019 season: the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and Brooklyn Nets.
Jacob Wolf of ESPN first reported that the league is expected to host its expansion draft on September 28, a mere 17 days after NBA 2K19 releases. The expansion draft is guaranteed to happen, so what could that look like?
If that date is true, it’s likely that the expansion draft will be limited to players who played in the first season of the league. The size of the expansion draft pool will be determined by the number of players teams are allowed to protect. The current expectation is that teams will be allowed to keep two players, which means that 67 players would be in the expansion draft pool.
Should that be the protection system, it’s likely that the expansion draft will be a simple, two-round affair, and only eight of the 67 players in the pool will be selected. Should that happen, the ensuing entry draft would likely be four rounds, and 84 players would be selected. The undrafted players from season one would likely be in the entry draft pool, alongside many newcomers who qualified through the combine. There will be more players in the draft pool than will be drafted into the league no matter what.
Now, not everything will necessarily be so cut-and-dried. If teams are allowed to keep more, the league might not mandate that expansion teams fill the same number of roster spots with players from season one. Should existing teams keep three players, expansion teams might only have to select two players from the unprotected pool, leaving them open to draft more new players in the entry draft later on.
It’s hard to accurately predict without further information, but the league will want to make sure their incoming teams maintain the parity that has made the league so exciting to this point. The entry draft won’t be designed to put new teams at a disadvantage. Look at how well modern expansion teams have done in short time in Big 4 sports. The Las Vegas Golden Knights made the Stanley Cup Finals in their first year. The league may not see such success in season one, but it’s an eminently reasonable idea to expect new teams to be competitive right away.
The expansion draft will play a big part in that. Teams need to know how it will work.