What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes’ Routines Like?

There are many high school and college students that look to get drafted into the NBA. The truth is, however, that this is a hard task to take on, and it’s statistically challenging as well. 

There have been some studies that say 1/10,000 students will get drafted onto an NBA team. Those are not good odds, even for the highly talented. 


But, there are some things that you can do to better your chances, and the first is to understand what it is like to enter the NBA. That includes everything you need to do to have the skills, the ins and outs of the draft, and what will be expected from you once you get a slot on a team.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: NBA

How Do You Get Into the NBA?

Though luck plays a part, you also need the skills. Working hard and training even harder is the best way to hone these skills. After all, once you get into the league, you will be drilled relentlessly, so why not start now? But it will take more than skill.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: The New York Times

You will need determination, as well, because it is going to take years of practice and hard work

Without a single-minded focus, your dream will not be able to be achieved. This determination will get you through the tough times and help you if you don’t make it in the draft.

Confidence Is Important Too!

Another factor that you will need to have to get into the NBA is confidence. There is something about confidence that helps most players achieve their goals. 

Maybe it’s the speak it into existence mindset, but having belief in yourself is vital to making this dream come true. 

Top Things to Have

There are several things that you will need to have to be able to play in the NBA. This professional league has a grueling schedule, and that means you will need to be in the best shape at all times. You will need both strength and endurance to be able to hang with the crowd.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: We Are Basket

Along with this, you will need to be a self-promoter nowadays. That means using all your social media profiles and other techniques to get your skills and name in front of the right people.

Along with this, most NBA draft picks have attended college, though there have been some drafted right out of high school (Dwight Howard and LeBron James, to name a few).

Maybe Even Add Some Yoga…

When thinking about getting into shape, many NBA players have been including yoga in their training routines

This discipline will help with flexibility and durability – two very important talents to have on the court. On top of that, it can help with mental clarity and focus, which are also handy. 

Become Eligible for the Draft 

So you have worked your way through high school and maybe even college, and you are looking to find a way to ensure you are involved in the NBA Draft. What are some of the guidelines you have to meet? The biggest eligibility and most commonly used is the completion of four years of college.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: SB Nation

You can also not have attended college but must have been out of high school for one year or even have played with a semi-professional team

This is an eligibility requirement for international players as well. 

Out of High School for a Year?

The draft used to require the players to be out of high school for four years. After a Supreme Court ruling in 1971, however, this was changed. 

Eventually, though, the draft rewrote the rules so that the player must have one year between graduation and draft eligibility so they can have experience playing against higher quality players. 

The Lottery

You need to understand how the lottery is broken down as well so you can really know who may be picking first. The teams that did not get into the playoffs get assigned several four-digit numbers. Those that are the lowest in rankings will get the most combinations of numbers. 

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
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Once every team has their number combinations, the actual lottery can begin. Each round will have 14 balls placed in a machine, and then four balls will be chosen. 

Whoever has this number gets the first draft choice. This process continues for the next rounds as well.

What if the Same Team Gets Second and Third Picks?

Because of the multiple combinations, this could reasonably occur. But to keep that from happening, there are rules. 

Each team can only have one choice per round. So even if they have the same combination one after the other, they will still only get one player per round

Draft Combine

Once the teams have their slots laid out, the next step of the draft is the Combine. This is held by the NBA and gives the prospects a stage to show off their skills to scouts, coaches, and news outlets. At this event, they will also be weighed and measured before all the drills.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: The Rookie Wire – USA Today

The Combine is a great way for those players that maybe haven’t had as much publicity to make their name. 

Though not all the teams will have representation at the Combine, it is still worth giving it all. Some of the players will also decline their invitation in fear of injury. 

What About College Players?

If you’re still attending college, you can also participate. If you have declared for the draft but decide maybe you are not ready yet, you can pull your name. 

But this must be done before the college deadline. This tends to be just after the Combine. Making sure to do this will retain your college eligibility for later dates. 

How Does the Draft Work?

There are two rounds, each with 30 picks. This allows each team to get one pick. That means that there are a total of 60 picks in the entire draft. The order of choices is, of course, determined by the lottery, which was discussed above. Of course, the top team from the previous season goes last to make things fair. 

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: The New Yorker

Once the draft begins, the starting team has a five-minute clock to take their first choice. If they don’t have a choice ready, they can trade that choice to another team

This team is then forced to make their choice, and this whole thing is done for two rounds in the same order. 

What Now?

Once you have been chosen, your life begins its new chapter. The teams can trade you without you even playing, but most of the time, the next step is training camps

You will have to move your life to a new city and begin working on climbing through the ranks of your new team.

What if You’re Not Chosen?

If you are one of the unlucky ones not to get chosen in the draft, you still have hopes of getting into the NBA. There are several avenues open to you. You can sign a free agent contract with a team and head to their summer league, which is viewed by the rest of the teams, no matter who you signed with.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
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If this doesn’t get you pulled up to the main roster, you can always opt to play in the NBA D-league

This is like farm teams in baseball, and though you may not end up in the most glamorous city, it is still a way to keep your dream alive. 

Head Overseas?

If, on the other hand, you are up for taking your skills beyond the US border, there are international teams that are looking for talented players, and you will make a lot more money than in the D-league. 

Plus, you will get to see some of the world, and you can use this to work your way into the NBA too. 

Keep a Daily Routine (Lebron James Example)

Once you make it into the NBA, the work doesn’t stop. In fact, the routines of some of the big stars are even more intense than what you might have done to get into the NBA. Take LeBron James, for example. He works out rigorously every day. 

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: NBC News

That workout is separate from his basketball drills and strength training. When it comes to diet, he eats super clean. 

No fried foods or artificial sugars, and plenty of water. He is especially strict on his diet on the day of a game. In recent years he has tried the paleo diet to help him get a little trimmer.

What About Sleep?

LeBron as a super athlete, understands the importance of sleep. Though he gets up super early in the morning, he still squeezes in 12 hours of sleep a day on average. 

He sleeps consistently for 8-9 hours, and then he naps during the day. He also pays close attention to the environment he sleeps in as well. 

Keep a Daily Routine (Stephen Curry Example)

Each player has their own specific routines that work for them. The one thing that is consistent is consistency and intensity. Another big name is Stephen Curry, and his routine is pretty set too. He breaks his training schedule up into body parts, and on that day, he focuses solely on that. This is along with all his drill training.

What Is It Like to Enter the NBA, And What Are the Athletes' Routines Like?
Image Source: CBS Sports

He also uses a neurocognitive training system. This is a light display system that he looks at with a set of goggles. 

As the display changes colors, he executes the dribbling practice that is correlative with the lighting display. This helps with speed and reaction time.

Rest and Recovery Are Important…

On his off days, he is all about his family. But part of recovery has to do with sleep. So just like LeBron, he places importance on his sleep schedule. 

Steph has met with a sleep specialist and has developed a system that works with his circadian rhythm. This includes a consistent 8 hours of sleep at its core. 


Getting into the NBA is the dream of many young players, but it is a dream that requires a lot of work. 

If you have an understanding of the process of what it is like to get into the NBA and what you have to do once you get in, then you will be able to format your plan appropriately. Good luck!


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