[ 2008-08-11 18:27 ]
The National Basketball Association (NBA), with teams from the United States and Canada, is the major professional basketball league in the world. The 29 NBA teams in the US are divided into two conferences, the Eastern and Western, each of which has two divisions. Each NBA team conducts a training camp in October to determine its 12-player roster. Training camp allows each team to evaluate players, especially rookies(first-year players), to assess the team's strengths and weaknesses, and to prepareplayers for the upcoming season through a series of on-court drills and practice of offensive and defensive strategy. After a series of exhibition games, the NBA begins its 82-game regular season in the first week of November.
In February the NBA interrupts its season to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game, featuringthe game's best players as selected by the general balloting of fans throughout the United States and Canada. After the NBA season concludes in April, a total of 16 teams qualify for the playoffs (8 teamsfrom each conference). In each conference the two division winners are guaranteed a playoff spot. The remaining playoff spots in each conference are awarded on the basis of win-loss records to the six next-best teams, regardless of division. The playoffs start with the first teams with better records playing the teams with worse records in a best-of-five series, in which the winner is the first team to win three games. In subsequent rounds best-of-seven series are played, with the team to earn four victories winning the round. The pIayoffs continue in this elimination scheme until a conference champion is crowned. The champions from the Eastern and Western conferences then meet in a best-of-seven series to determine the NBA champion.
Every June the league conducts its amateur draft, in which each team obtains the rights to the professional services of the best collegiate and international players. Any player whose high school class has graduated and who is at least 18 years old qualifies for the NBA draft. Generally, players attend at least one year of college before turning professional. To determine the draft order the NBA uses a draft lottery, introduced in 1985. Those teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs the previous season are eligible for the lottery. The lottery determines the first three teams to select in the draft. The remaining teams, including those that qualified for the playoffs the preceding season, draft accordingto their win-loss record of the previous season, so that teams with poorer records draft earlier than those with better records. The NBA draft consists of only two rounds, with a total of 58 players chosen. Those players not selected in the draft can be invited to play for a team and are sometimes signed to playing contracts as free agents.
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