ESPN Shifts Focus From NBA Finals to Future at 2017 Draft

The broadcaster is deploying 17 cameras and more than 130 staffers at Barclays Center

It’s déjà vu all over again at tonight’s NBA Draft, where, following an NBA Finals showdown between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Philadelphia 76ers have the first overall pick for the second straight year at the Barclays Center. Even so, ESPN — broadcasting the NBA Draft for the 15th consecutive year — remains prepared for the unexpected.

ESPN tips off its coverage of the NBA Draft tonight at 7 p.m. ET and will have two sets on the Barclays Center floor. The main desk, located in the back left corner of the Barclays Center floor, will be manned by host Rece Davis, NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Michael Wilbon, and college-basketball analyst Jay Bilas. The second set, situated in the back right corner of the floor, will feature a large touchscreen that the analysts can use in discussing the draftees.

College-sports reporter Allison Williams will conduct post-pick interviews with the draftees, and the 76ers’ No. 1 overall pick is expected to sit down at the main desk with Davis, Rose, Wilbon, and Bilas. Jeff Goodman, Fran Fraschilla, and Tom Penn will also be on hand to add their expertise, and reporters will be stationed onsite with the 76ers (No. 1), Los Angeles Lakers (No. 2), Boston Celtics (No. 3), and New York Knicks (No. 8).

Unlike last year, when the NBA Finals went to Game 7 and significantly shortened ESPN’s prep time for the NBA Draft, the Warriors’ win in Game 5 meant that ESPN would have more than a week to get ready for the Draft. As a result, the broadcaster was able to get Game Creek Video’s Spirit A and B — in Cleveland for the NBA Finals — to Brooklyn by Sunday and powered up on Monday.

“This year, we had the luxury of having extra days in between [the NBA Finals and the NBA Draft],” says ESPN Operations Manager Patty Mattero. “We’re using the same mobile units this year that we did use on the Finals, [and], given the fact that the Finals got over early, that allowed [Game Creek] to reset their trucks. The engineers have at least some sort of a breather before they start setting up.”

ESPN will cover the Barclays Center — hosting the NBA Draft for the fifth consecutive year — with 17 cameras, including three jibs on the two set locations, an RF handheld and RF Steadicam, and a smattering of Marshall POV cameras. The POV cameras, says Mattero, will be installed in “some unique, out-of-the-way places to capture the feeling of the show.”

Between operations, production, and technical staffers, ESPN will have more than 130 people onsite. Tencent, which holds the NBA broadcast rights in China, will deploy an additional 10 staffers. In addition, ESPN will collaborate with NBA Entertainment and NBA TV on camera positions and sharing resources.

“This is my first season working with NBA Entertainment and NBA TV,” says Mattero, “and they truly are a partnership where everybody collaborates to put on the best broadcast and the best product possible.”

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