The 2018 edition of the annual selection process for the basketball league’s best incoming rookies will see three different teams of broadcasters from the Disney-owned sports empire covering the event, which will be telecast live Thursday evening from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“The NBA Draft Presented by State Farm” will get the usual showcase on ESPN’s main stage, its premium channel. But for the first time ever, sister network ESPN2 will have an entirely separate squad covering the proceedings from a different angle.
To top that off, a third version will get into the game on Twitter, where “On the Clock” coverage will stream during the first round of picks.
Stephanie Druley, senior VP of production at ESPN, explained the decision to triple down on the NBA Draft as an effort to fully maximize on the league’s momentum a an audience draw.
“We recognize the ascension of the NBA in popularity,” she said. “We see it in the ratings for our games and the passions of the fans, The draft is something we hadn’t taken full advantage of in the past and this seemed like the right time.”
Rece Davis will anchor ESPN’s draft coverage alongside NBA analyst Chauncey Billups and college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. Over on ESPN2, the sports network will capitalize on its deep bench of b-ball commentators with Rachel Nichols anchoring a separate edition that will carry the brand of her daily NBA-focused show, “The Jump,” where she will be paired with analysts including Brian Windhorst, Amin Elhassan and Zach Lowe.
Asked how the two versions will differ from each other stylistically, Druley noted that the “Jump” crew will take a more NBA-centric perspective than the more traditional approach that will come out of the main ESPN channel, which focuses more on what the draft means to the fans.
The Twitter-based ESPN coverage of the draft will feature David Jacoby, Ryen Russillo and Ryan Hollins for a third option that will be differentiated by “more of a radio-type approach,” according to Druley. “It’s essentially a radio show with pictures, though I might be underselling that. Jacoby and Russillo do that really well.”
ESPN’s primary draft coverage will also be bolstered by the presence of Adrian Wojnarowski, the network’s most prominent NBA expert known for his “Woj bombs” — rim-rattling exclusive reports about the latest developments in the league, which often include disclosures about which team will draft which players before they are even officially announced from the Barclays stage.
The 2018 Draft is expected to have its share of drama, with some uncertainty as to what order some highly touted college prospects and European imports will be selected, including Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic. There is also a good possibility the draft order could be rearranged as trades featuring some of the league’s more prominent players have received a good amount of speculation.