From the rookies to the cream of the crop
For aspiring young stars, making the NBA is only the first step. It is as much of a grind, if not more, to carve out a long career in the League. Each year, more hopefuls enter the NBA through the draft and other means but soon find out that talent is often insufficient among the game’s elite.
The limits: With each of the 30 NBA teams allowed to carry 15 players on their roster, a maximum of 450 players can be in the League at any one time. In reality though, only 13 players can be active for each game, with teams frequently fielding rotations of 10 or less players. This means that only a portion of the 450 players actually have the opportunity to play meaningful minutes for their teams, with the complacent or work-shy being quickly left behind.
The draft: Each season, the NBA Draft brings another batch of players. With teams being given a pick apiece in the first round and also in the second round, 60 new NBA players are selected each year. With the roster limits in place, this means that 60 existing players could be potentially find themselves surplus to requirements as well. In fact, 60 is the bare minimum as there are other ways for players to enter the League, for instance with undrafted free agents as well as the G League.
The All-Stars: Despite these challenging conditions, some of the NBA’s best are still able to distinguish themselves and rise to the top. A major goal for most players is the All-Star Game, where the 12 best players from each Conference compete. The 10 starters from the two Conferences are selected by fan voting, while the remaining 14 reserves are chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches.
The grind: As you can see, entering the NBA is hardly the time for players to rest on their laurels. Instead, it is merely the beginning of a long journey, where only the hardiest, fiercest competitors are able to survive and thrive, etching their names into the record books and into the Hall of Fame.