First-ever “NBL Draft” creates opportunities for keen ballers

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Preparations are underway for the first-ever “NBL Draft”, which gives the opportunity for any player over the age of 15 to register and potentially be “drafted” into one of the seven teams in the five-week, Auckland-based tournament. 

Ngāpuhi player Hyrum Harris is one hoping to earn a spot in a team, but for now, he is grateful to be back on the court again. 

“Coming off lockdown, not being able to do any basketball for nine weeks, it will be a bit of a shock at first but hopefully all the players adjust to it and we get amongst it and enjoy it,” he says.   

Traditionally, an NBL team could have up to three imports, however, with this new selection process, General Manager of the Sals NBL, Justin Nelson, says this format will localise the competition.

“One of the most exciting elements of the player draft is that it is designed to equally share the talent across the seven teams.

"For the first time in a long time, the race for the title is wide open,” says Nelson.

According to the official NBL Draft rules - each team will have 12 players, each player with a rank from one to twelve. Players ranked one to seven will be paid, players ranked eight to ten will be unpaid positions.  

Each team will have the same budget and each ranked player will be paid the same as other players with the same rank. 

“It's gonna be really exciting sitting down 5 nights a week and watching these teams go to battle, and I've got no idea who's gonna win,” says Nelson.

The draft will take place on June 11.