While much of the 2011 NFL Draft circled around the on-again, off-again relationship of the expiring CBA between the owners and players' union, we couldn't help but take note of a few items to look forward to in translating to the 2011 NBA Draft in two months. Just like in the NFL, the NBA's CBA is up in question, expiring on June 30th, 2011. In 2005, the two sides came to an agreement in late-June and no time was lost. However, in 1998, the players and owners were not so fortunate when the CBA expired. The league imposed a lockout on July 1, 1998, which lasted into the season, shortening the 82-game regular-season to just 50 games. It's almost a certainty that the two sides won't come to an agreement before then, meaning more regular-season games will be lost like in 98-99 or even worse, the entire season.
The one glaring difference between the 2011 NFL Draft and the 2011 NBA Draft is the level of talent- the NFL still had a very good talent pool for their teams to choose from, while the NBA pool is surprisingly bad. Three of the top five players on our last Big Board (Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones) all made the decision to return to school for their sophomore season. As a result, players that were rated as mid-first round picks get shifted into the lottery and paid like it too, despite being a lesser talent. For some of these second-round prospects or even late-first-round players, they couldn't dream of a better scenario than the likes of Barnes, Sullinger, Jones, plus John Henson, Patric Young and Tyler Zeller amongst others, returning to school. That pushes these talents up the draft boards, giving teams worse value at each pick.
Something to keep an eye on is the amount of trades that occur in this process. Teams will be reluctant to move pieces, especially draft picks with the lack of talent in the draft, but because there is no CBA in place, teams won't want to acquire salaries/players when a lockout will occur seven days later. The NFL draft was a bit different since the league locked out the players prior to the draft and in the NBA's situation, the league will lockout the players after the draft. Franchises will be looking to move either down or out of the 2011 draft to re-position themselves for the more-anticipated 2012 NBA Draft.